LONDON, June 9 /PRNewswire/ --

The GSMA, the global trade association for the mobile communications industry, welcomes an initiative driven by the Finnish Ministry of Communications to develop a unified approach to the allocation of 'Digital Dividend' spectrum - the spectrum that will be freed up by the switchover from analogue to digital TV - in the Baltic Sea region. The Ministry today hosted a Baltic Sea Summit on the digital dividend in Helsinki attended by government delegations from all the Baltic Sea states, namely Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

The leadership of Minister Linden has been significant. There are many millions of citizens in the Baltic countries who will only have access to high speed broadband if mobile can use the digital dividend spectrum. By ensuring that Baltic countries harmonise their plans with the wider European region, their citizens will benefit from the scale economies of a 500 million population market, said Tom Phillips, Chief Government Regulatory Affairs Officer, GSMA.

The objective of the meeting was to discuss how best to maximise the economic and social benefits promised by the digital dividend in the Baltic Sea region. Allocating some of the digital dividend to mobile broadband will increase Internet penetration and have a significant positive economic impact by driving innovation, job creation, productivity and competitiveness. However, harmonisation of the spectrum on a regional basis is needed to drive down handset and network equipment costs and make mobile broadband affordable to consumers.

Consumers will increasingly demand wider availability of mobile broadband, which will enable innovative solutions which deliver on the promise of the converging worlds of Internet and mobility. The mobile industry urgently needs clarity on the availability of spectrum bands and regulatory issues, to accelerate the efficient and cost effective implementation of these mobile broadband solutions. The 790-862 MHz band is important, as it has significant potential to provide excellent coverage over large geographical areas, said Timo Ali-Vehmas, Vice President of Compatibility and Industry Collaboration at Nokia. We welcome the Finnish Ministry's leadership of regional discussions to achieve this.

The digital dividend has the potential to provide universal access for all consumers and to allow operators to accelerate mobile broadband throughout the Baltic Sea region, said Esa Rautalinko, Country Manager and President, TeliaSonera Finland.

In Finland, digital switchover is now complete. We strongly hope this Summit will provide the momentum to develop a regional solution which will enable licensing arrangements to proceed. Given that this kind of opportunity won't come around again in the foreseeable future, it is important that these decisions are well-informed and strategic, said Riitta Tiuraniemi, CEO, DNA.


The characteristics of the low-frequency digital dividend spectrum in the 790-862MHz band mean that it is ideally suited to the roll out of mobile broadband in rural areas. This is of particular importance in the Baltic region where population density is typically lower than in other parts of Europe. However, in many of the Baltic Sea states, legacy aeronautical systems as well as analogue broadcast systems occupy parts of the 790-862MHz band. There are also multiple border issues which threaten to complicate coordination. A key objective of the Baltic Sea Summit was to consider ways to overcome interference with aeronautical systems and mediate between military and broadcast use of digital dividend, at a regional level.

Harmonisation of digital dividend spectrum at EU level is an important element in the greater spectrum debate in Europe, which currently faces an urgent need for more spectrum to accommodate significant increases in mobile broadband usage. Extending coverage to rural areas and ensuring that the 'digital divide' between town and country is lowered is also a vital element of EU policy.

The European Parliament's decision to liberalise the 900MHz spectrum band through amendments to the GSM Directive forms a part of this exercise, and is also fully supported by the GSMA. Work on the digital dividend must continue alongside this to ensure universal connectivity.

About GSMA:

The GSMA represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry. Spanning 219 countries, the GSMA unites more than 750 of the world's mobile operators, as well as 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organizations. The Association's members represent more than 3 billion GSM and 3GSM connections, around 86% of world's mobile subscribers.

GSM Association,