Reding's proposal, which would set new rules requiring EU countries to make efficient use of spectrum, passed the European Parliament in a first vote in September. The plan will be taken up by the EU's 27 national telecommunications ministers on Nov. 27.
"I welcome the strong signal from France to use a substantial part of the digital dividend to ensure broadband for all citizens," Reding said in a statement. "This will strengthen Europe's efforts to arrive at such a solution for all EU member states in the very near future."
European countries are individually deciding how to divvy up the so-called digital dividend of spectrum freed as domestic televisioin broadcasters convert to the more compressed digital format through 2015.
While representatives of the mobile industry hailed the move, broadcasting groups were wary.
Walid Sami, a senior engineer at the European Broadcasting Union, which represents 75 publicly owned television and radio broadcasters, called the French move troubling, saying it could disadvantage French broadcasters that needed extra spectrum for high-definition broadcasts, which require more bandwidth.
"We have two concerns, the reduction of the space available to broadcasters to develop their services, such as HD," Sami said. "Also, there is the real possibility there will be interference between the two types of signals."
Mobile operators dispute the contention, saying the two services will not interfere with each other.
Television broadcasters and mobile phone operators, many of which have started selling mobile broadband and mobile video services, have been fighting over the issue of dividing the spectrum in national and international standards setting forums.
The International Telecommunications Union's World Radiocommunications Conference, which sets frequency allocation standards, recommended in November that 18 percent of the UHF band, from 790 megahertz to 862 megahertz, be shared by television broadcasters and mobile operators.
The French plan, disclosed by Eric Besson, a French state secretary responsible for evaluation of public policies, commits France to reserving 72 megahertz of prime spectrum that is currently being used exclusively by television broadcasters - the 790 MHz to 862 MHz band - for mobile broadband services by the end of next year.
Besson said the country's broadcasters would be able to use the remaining portion of the UHF spectrum - 470 MHz to 790 MHz. He said that would still be enough to support 11 terrestrial broadcasters plus two new mobile TV broadcasters, owned either by mobile operators or TV broadcasters.
Sami said the French plan would most likely influence other European nations to make a similar redistribution. Britain, he said, is also leaning toward devoting a portion of that spectrum, from 806 MHz to 862 MHz, for mobile services.
"I think this will definitely have an influence on the others," Sami said.
The low frequency UHF bandwidth is considered prime commercial real estate because broadcasters can transmit signals over great distances without the need for frequent base stations and repeaters, which add to costs.
"The French government has acted decisively by allocating 72 megahertz of spectrum freed up by the switchover to digital television to mobile broadband services, which will reach rural communities that can't be served economically by fixed-line broadband networks," said Tom Phillips, chief government and regulatory affairs officer of the GSM Association, which represents the Continent's mobile operators.
"The rest of Europe should follow France's example as soon as possible."