ComReg confirms winners of 3.5GHz/3.7GHz spectrum auction

23 May 2017

Irish telecoms watchdog the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has published the results of its 3.5GHz/3.7GHz spectrum sale, with five companies laying claim to a total of 350MHz of bandwidth on offer.

With ComReg noting that such frequencies have been identified by the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) as being suitable for the introduction of 5G in Europe, it confirmed that spectrum had been offered in 594 lots spread over nine regions (four rural and five urban), assigned on a contiguous basis. All three of the nation’s existing mobile network operators (MNOs) bagged spectrum, with market leader Three Ireland the biggest spender, successfully bidding EUR15.3 million (USD17.2 million) for 100MHz in each of the nine regions; the cellco will also pay an annual spectrum usage fee of EUR5.1 million. For its part, Vodafone Ireland secured 85MHz for rural regions and 105MHz in the country’s cities at a total upfront cost of EUR17.9 million (annual fee: EUR4.8 million), while Meteor Mobile agreed to pay EUR11.5 million (annual fee: EUR4.2 million) for 80MHz in rural regions and 85MHz in cities.

Alongside the MNOs, Imagine Communications Ireland, which ComReg called the country’s ‘largest Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP)’, obtained spectrum rights of use for 60MHz in each of the four rural regions at a cost of EUR8.1 million (annual fee: EUR1.6 million). Rounding out the winners, new player Airspan Spectrum Holdings Ltd, a UK-based subsidiary of US-based vendor Airspan, obtained 25MHz in all rural regions and 60MHz in all cities for EUR7.6 million (annual fee: EUR2.1 million). All spectrum rights of use licences will run for 15 years, expiring on 31 July 2032.

ComReg noted: ‘The release of the [3.5GHz/3.7GHz] band has increased the amount of harmonised spectrum for mobile, nomadic and fixed wireless broadband services by 86% and places ComReg at the vanguard of Europe, having awarded 350MHz of the band in full accordance with the Europe’s harmonisation Decision, fully ready for any future 5G deployment.’