The European Commission has passed a new rule that will force European Union member states to open up the 2GHz band for 4G technologies.
The decision will add another 120MHz to the radio spectrum available for 4G technologies, giving the EU twice the amount of spectrum for high-speed wireless broadband as the United States, at around 1000MHz.
4G systems use new technologies, such as LTE (Long-Term Evolution), to provide faster upload and download data speeds than are currently available. Industry developments mean that these technologies are increasingly capable of offering 30Mbps to many users at the same time.
Consumer applications include faster mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services and high-definition mobile TV.
Although today's decision gives national authorities until July 2014 to open the relevant spectrum, Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said she wants to see member states "acting swiftly to change existing licenses." The 2GHz band is currently licensed to be used for 3G networks only.
The new rule also sets out technical conditions for the coexistence between different technologies to allow more flexible use of the paired terrestrial 2GHz band.
The Commission is also considering a follow-up measure on the unpaired terrestrial 2GHz spectrum, which is currently allocated for use by 3G networks, but remains unused throughout the EU. The Commission has already asked the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations to study suitable applications and develop appropriate technical conditions and sharing arrangements.