EU pushes for more mobile broadband

The European Commission takes countries to court over telecom taxes

European Union authorities have sent out a clear message that they will not accept delays to the plan to give all European consumers access to broadband by 2013.

The European Commission has ordered Hungary and Spain to ensure that the 900MHz radio frequency band is available for services such as mobile Internet. If the countries do not comply with the Commission's request within two months, they could be referred to the European Court of Justice, which has the power to impose fines for non-compliance.

Under the GSM Directive, E.U. member states were supposed to open up the 900MHz band last year. Opening this radio spectrum band to more advanced access technologies such as UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) is an important part of efforts to promote more rapid and widespread rollout of wireless broadband services.

In a separate move also aimed at regulating the telecom sector, the Commission has taken France and Spain to the European Court of Justice over taxes on mobile-phone operators. It has also started legal proceedings against Hungary over its telecom tax.

Both France and Spain introduced 0.9 percent taxes on operators in 2009 after they ended paid advertising on public television, while Hungary introduced the special tax on electronic communication companies in October 2010.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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