Ireland 4G Auction Raises £689m

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
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Ireland completes its 4G auction before the UK’s even starts

Mobile operators in Ireland are set to pay a combined total of €854.6 million (£689m) to launch 4G networks in the country from next year.

Vodafone Ireland, Telefonica Ireland, Three and Eircom-owned Meteor were the successful bidders in the Ireland 4G spectrum auction, which communications regulator ComReg called one of the most important pieces of work that it had ever undertaken.

The four companies will pay an up-front fee of €487.1 million with rest paid in yearly installments until 2030.

Ireland 4G auction completed

Bandwidth in the former 2G bands of 900MHz and 1800MHz was up for grabs, as was 800MHz spectrum liberalised by when analogue television in Ireland was switched off last month. All successful bidders have committed to attaining and maintaining 70 percent population coverage within three years.

ComReg called the process “a vital step that promotes competition and allows the next generation of advanced mobile services to be made available to Irish consumers and businesses from next year.”

“The award of these licences, which last until 2030, provides the winning operators with more of the best possible radio spectrum available,” said Alex Chisholm, ComReg chair. “The spectrum is being provided in a technology-neutral manner and will allow winning operators to provide innovative services using the latest mobile technologies, including LTE.”

“The duration of the licences will provide certainty and allow mobile network operators to plan investment and development of networks on a long-term basis,” added Chisholm.

Luck of the Irish

The successful mobile operators welcomed the results.

“We are delighted with the outcome of the auction,” said Robert Finnegan, CEO of Three Ireland. “This result will enable the roll-out of new technologies such as LTE with speeds of up to 180 Mbps but also allows us to continue to invest in our network going forward.”

“We now have the best possible combination of available spectrum and work has already commenced on upgrading our network nationwide,” added Jeroen Hoencamp, CEO of Vodafone Ireland. “Our customers have access currently to the fastest data network and from next year, they will experience the next generation of mobile technology, 4G.”

UK operators have until 11 December to submit their applications to bid for spectrum, with bidding starting in early 2013 with a view to rolling out LTE services as early as next May. EE is currently the only commercial 4G network operating in the UK, having launched such a service on its existing spectrum last month.

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