Ireland’s Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has published the results of the main stage of its ‘Multi Band Spectrum Award’ sale process, to determine the winners and prices for a total of 470MHz of bandwidth being offered across four frequency bands – 700MHz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz and 2.6GHz. According to ComReg, the allocation of new spectrum is expected to ‘significantly increase (by 46%) the spectrum available for fixed and mobile services, while facilitating operators in making long-term investment decisions essential for the widespread rollout of 5G services in Ireland’. Further, the spectrum sale will raise around EUR448 million (USD477 million) for the state, subject to the determination of legal proceedings.
A total of four companies were confirmed to have successfully bid for new spectrum, with Vodafone Ireland emerging as the biggest spender, having bid EUR145.9 million for frequencies in the 700MHz (one 2×10MHz block), 2100MHz (two 2×20MHz blocks) and 2.6GHz (two lots of 2×35MHZ FDD spectrum and two 1×30MHz TDD blocks) bands. For its part, Three Ireland also secured frequencies in three bands, having bid for EUR140.4 million for a 2×10MHz block in the 700MHz band, 2×20MHz blocks in the 2100MHz band, and two 2×35MHz FDD blocks in the 2.6GHz band.
Meanwhile, eir laid claim to spectrum in the 700MHz (one 2×10MHz block), 2100MHz (one 2×5MHz block and one 2×20MHz block) and 2300MHz (two 1×60MHz block), after agreeing to pay a total of EUR140.2 million for these frequencies. Rounding out the winning bidders, Imagine Communications secured spectrum in the 2300MHz (two 1×40MHz blocks) and 2.6GHz (two 1×15 TDD blocks), with a bid of EUR21.5 million.
In terms of next steps, ComReg has confirmed it will now advance to the ‘Assignment Stage’ of the sale process, in which the specific frequency assignments for each band will be determined. ComReg will make a further announcement regarding this stage ‘in due course’. However, the regulator did reiterate that, in line with an order from the Court of Appeal dated 8 November 2022, it will not notify the winning bidders of their entitlement to apply for licences until a final determination has been made by the courts relating to an appeal lodged by Three Ireland against the spectrum sale back in July 2022.
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