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Coordinated introduction of a third-generation UMTS system in the Community

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Coordinated introduction of a third-generation UMTS system in the Community


To facilitate the gradual and coordinated introduction, by no later than 1 January 2002, of compatible UMTS networks and services in the Community on the basis of internal market principles and in accordance with commercial demand.


Decision No 128/1999/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 December 1998 on the coordinated introduction of a third-generation mobile and wireless communications system (UMTS) in the Community.

Official Journal L 17, 22.01.1999


"Universal mobile telecommunications system (UMTS)" means a third-generation mobile and wireless communications system capable of supporting in particular innovative multimedia services, beyond the capability of second generation systems such as GSM, and capable of combining the use of terrestrial and satellite components (Article 2).

Member States must take all actions necessary in order to allow the coordinated and progressive introduction of UMTS services on their territory by 1 January 2002 at the latest and in particular must establish an authorisation system for UMTS by no later than 1 January 2000.

However, Member States may, on grounds of exceptional technical difficulties, ask the Commission to grant them an additional implementation period of up to twelve months. Such requests must be filed before 1 January 2000 (Article 3).

When preparing and applying their authorisation systems, Member States must ensure that the provision of UMTS is organised:

  • in frequency bands which are harmonised by CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications administrations);
  • pursuant to European standards for UMTS approved or developed by ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute). Member States must ensure that licences permit transnational roaming in the Community (Article 3).

Member States must encourage organisations providing UMTS networks to negotiate among themselves cross-border roaming agreements to ensure seamless Community-wide service coverage (Article 4).

The Commission must give CEPT/ERC (European Radiocommunications Committee) and CEPT/ECTRA (European Committee for Telecommunications Regulatory Affairs) mandates inter alia to harmonise frequency use.

The Commission must take all necessary measures, where appropriate in cooperation with ETSI, to promote a common and open standard for the provision of compatible UMTS services throughout Europe, in accordance with market requirements, taking into account the need to present a common standard to the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) as an option for the worldwide ITU IMT 2000 recommendation ("International Mobile Telecommunications-2000", i.e. the ITU's third-generation mobile system concept) (Article 6).

The Commission must regularly inform the Licensing Committee of the outcome of consultations with the representatives of organisations providing telecommunications services or networks, users, consumers, manufacturers and trade unions.

The Committee must, taking into account the Community's telecommunications policy, encourage the exchange of information between the Member States and the Commission on the situation and the development of regulatory activities regarding the authorisation of UMTS services (Article 8).

The Commission must take all necessary measures to facilitate the introduction of UMTS services and the free circulation of UMTS equipment in third countries.

To this end, it must seek the implementation of international agreements applicable to UMTS (Article 9).

Last updated: 22.01.1999