Regulator plans SMRA auction for valuable spectrum

2 Jul 2008

Ireland’s independent telecoms regulator the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), has published a ‘Spectrum Strategy Statement’ covering the period 2008-2010, designed to manage the use of the Republic’s finite radio spectrum in the coming years. The economic contribution of the communications sector in Ireland is through to be worth around EUR3 billion (USD4.73 billion) per annum and increased demand for spectrum bandwidth could compel the watchdog to hold so-called simultaneous multiple round auctions (SMRA) and ‘beauty contest’ style contests in order to distribute the scarce resource. In the statement John Doherty, the chairman of ComReg said: ‘Initiatives such as those planned in the mobile communications space, digital terrestrial television and the ensuing digital dividend, not to mention developments in WiMAX technology, all contribute to making this a particularly busy but exciting time for spectrum management.’

ComReg is scheduled to auction off spectrum in the 900MHz band (for GSM services) and could use SMRA to help drive up the price for bandwidth. Operators are also thought to be keen to acquire rights to the 1800MHz band being offered – around one-third of which is currently unused, says the Independent newspaper. An SMRA can be the most lucrative form of auction and involves multiple bidding rounds which can substantially drive up the price for bandwidth.