Wireless Network Evolution

The Wireless Network Evolution Working Group (WNE WG) work streams cover a wide range of developments; ranging from the impact of evolving generations of mobile network technologies on markets and consumers in Europe, the use of satellite and satellite connectivity to the development of Open Radio Access Networks, through to cooperation with other competent authorities and stakeholders, most notably the Radio Spectrum Policy Group. In the context of rapid technological change, and the growing importance of end-to-end connectivity, it is vital that the regulatory practices remain fit for purpose. The WNE WG continues to analyse technological developments and their impact on sustainable competition in telecom markets. In line with the European ambition to create a Europe fit for the digital age, the WNE WG of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) contributes by identifying best practices and sharing information on the market shaping aspects of spectrum assignment which can facilitate the rollout of Very High-Capacity Networks (VHCN) and stimulate their contribution to close the digital divide.

Working Group Co-chairs

The image shows Joe Lynch, Co-chair of the BEREC Wireless Network Evolution Working Group
The image shows Sietse van der Gaast, Co-chair of the BEREC Wireless Network Evolution Working Group

Joe Lynch

ComReg, Ireland

Sietse van der Gaast

ACM, the Netherlands

(Note: This video was recorded in 2022. It may include one or more former Co-chairs).

Work in 2023

In 2023, the WNE WG will continue working on related topics based on the BEREC Work Programme 2023.

BEREC Report on practices and challenges of the phasing out of 2G and 3G

Several European mobile operators have publicly announced their plans to switch-off their 2G and/or 3G networks. These plans are important because they will free up frequency bands for newer technologies, rationalise the radio and core equipment of the Internet Service Providers to manage fewer different generations of technologies, and make networks compatible with virtualised solutions. Overall, the switch-off of those technologies may have numerous potential consequences.

In this context, BEREC will gather the relevant information about 2G and 3G phasing out practice. BEREC is interested in understanding and anticipating any impact of possible future phasing out of some legacy systems (2G and 3G) on the electronic communications market, including system reliability and security, sustainable network management, end-user terminal developments, etc.

BEREC external workshop on secure and reliable connectivity in Europe from low earth orbit satellite fleets

Due to their unique characteristics, satellite communications (SatCom) can be an integral part of providing connectivity to remote locations where terrestrial networks cannot reach and/or serve populations economically. The space sector is fast-moving and growing, and user needs, including business users, may create new opportunities for SatCom providers. For example, today's sector includes emerging technologies such as Non-Geostationary Orbit Satellites (NGSO) that deliver improved services to users. With many new space sector operators deploying a large number of satellites in low earth orbits (consisting of fleets of between hundreds and thousands of satellites) satellite connectivity is expected to give rise to new opportunities and challenges.

In 2023, BEREC intends to broaden its knowledge of the opportunities and challenges raised by NGSO satellite communication systems. The interest is in understanding and identifying regulatory challenges that may arise regarding developing new satellite networks/services. In this context, BEREC will explore the potential impacts on the communications market.

Peer review process

BEREC and the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) agreed on working arrangements on 13 June 2019. These set out the cooperation methods for BEREC’s participation in the Peer Review Forum per the requirements of Article 35 of Directive (EU) 2018/1972 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Electronic Communications Code – the 'EECC'. BEREC’s participation in the Peer Review Forum contributes to all three BEREC strategic priorities through discussions with the RSPG about the market-shaping aspects of spectrum assignment. The Peer Review Forum is convened by the RSPG only when required.

Why is this important?

Wireless networks play an indispensable and crucial role in achieving connectivity, and they can be considered a VHCN in certain circumstances. Thus, wireless networks play an essential part in achieving the European Union’s connectivity goals and objectives. While 5G networks are still rolling out across Europe, its successor, 6G, is already in development. BEREC is aware that end-users are less concerned about different network types so long as they have access to high-speed, high-quality services, regardless of network mode. In this regard, heterogenous networks including satellite networks, can enable connectivity to locations where communication by other means is impossible or economically infeasible. That may be important for Universal Service, amongst other things. BEREC, therefore, must keep well informed of wireless developments through this group.