updated 06:30 pm EDT, Fri October 23, 2009
More airwaves freed for Euro cell data
The European Union in a decision this week formally approved the use of 3G and eventually 4G data on the 900MHz and 1,800MHz GSM bands. The measure substantially improves the amount of bandwidth available for cellular Internet access in EU states and should render it less expensive as well. Besides reducing the need for more cell sites, allowing frequencies lower than 2,100MHz for 3G will also extend the range and coverage of existing service.
The effort follows an initial approval for 900MHz use earlier this year and largely mirrors AT&T's own efforts in the US, where it had previously been using 1,900MHz for the majority of its 3G but now has most areas using 850MHz as well. Adding the second frequency band has been credited to reducing or eliminating major network congestion problems in areas with a heavy concentration of iPhone users, such as New York City and San Francisco.
EU countries now have up to six months to implement the rule change. It's not yet known how easily cellphone and modem designers could software-modify their devices to use 3G with the the newly cleared spectrum.