Europe's Spectrum Refarming for 3G will Help Operators Expand Coverage and Reduce Costs, finds Pyramid Research

Jul 14, 2009

Spectrum refarming, one of the most significant Europe-wide regulatory changes to affect the mobile industry in the past 20 years, will benefit operators by increasing network capacity and improving the availability and quality of existing services, according to a new report from Pyramid Research (, the telecom research arm of the Light Reading Communications Network (

Spectrum Refarming for 3G: A Low-Cost Boost for Mobile Broadband analyzes the advantages of refarming 900MHz spectrum for UMTS, looking at data usage, mobile broadband computing, frequency characteristics, capex, 3G coverage, and competition. This 15-page report draws on the refarming experience in three key countries, Finland, Switzerland, and the U.K., to discuss different regulatory considerations and evaluate strategies. Download an excerpt of this report here:

Since 3G data cards were introduced across Europe in late 2007 and 2008, the number of data card subscriptions has grown at an amazing pace, notes Andrei Tchadliev, analyst at Pyramid Research and author of the report. "At the end of 2008, there were more than 22 million such subscriptions across Europe, and we expect this number to exceed 100 million in 2014," he says. "Healthy competition, meanwhile, has meant that operators continue to expand usage allowances and lower prices while pushing network capacity to the limit," he adds. Due to this, national regulators across Europe have begun consultations on refarming 900MHz-band spectrum previously allocated to GSM services. This spectrum is instead to be used for the next generation of mobile communications, namely 3G-UMTS.

"Spectrum refarming is one of the most significant regulatory changes to affect the mobile industry in the past 20 years, however, those with 900MHz assets see refarming as a threat to their competitive advantage as well as to the quality of their networks," Tchadliev says. "Although operators may feel threatened by the prospect of losing their existing spectrum assets, the opportunity to expand coverage and reduce costs outweighs any hesitation they may have about service deterioration or loss of market share from reduced spectrum holdings," he explains.

"But the move to provide 3G over the 900MHz spectrum is by no means the end game; operators must begin examining opportunities to deploy 4G services over the digital dividend frequencies when they become available," Tchadliev says.

Spectrum Refarming for 3G: A Low-Cost Boost for Mobile Broadband is part of Pyramid Research's Europe Telecom Insider report series. Download an excerpt of this report here: This report is priced at $595 and can be purchased online here: or by contacting Jeff Claudino via email at or telephone at +1-619-229-9940.

Learn more about the findings in this report in Pyramid's industry leading Forecasts ( Based on rigorous and time-tested research methodology and data modeling, Pyramid's Forecast Services stand as the communications industry's most reliable and robust forecasting tools. Clients have access to 1,200-plus key market indicators updated quarterly covering the mobile, fixed, and convergence sectors for nearly 100 countries, including detailed operating metrics for more than 400 operators worldwide. Each Pyramid Forecast Service delivers five-year projections for key operational and performance indicators, market share metrics, and service demand tracking at both the operator and country levels.

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