Irish telecoms regulator, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), has published both a response to feedback to a consultation it launched last year, which focused on the issue of which spectrum bands should be included in its proposed award of spectrum suitable for the provision of mobile broadband services, and a fresh consultation on its plans in this area.
In a June 2018 consultation, the regulator had said its preliminary view was that spectrum in the 700MHz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz and 2600MHz bands should be included in that proposed award. Having accepted feedback on this publication, ComReg has now published both a response to its initial consultation and a new consultation regarding its more in-depth plans. As such, the regulator has now confirmed it does plan to offer spectrum in the four aforementioned bands, with it proposing to award ‘470MHz of spectrum rights’ in total, a figure it claims would mean a 46% increase in the frequencies available for wireless broadband services in Ireland. This spectrum will be made available in a competitive award process which will be open to both existing operators and potential new entrants. Further, in line with European obligations, ComReg has said it will offer the frequencies on a technology- and service-neutral basis.
Included among the key aspects of the proposed award are: a proposed duration of 15 years for rights in the 700MHz, 2300MHz and 2600MHz bands, and a duration of ‘circa 13 years’ for the 2100MHz band; the use of an open competitive award format based on a combinatorial clock auction (CCA); the setting of proposed spectrum fees at ‘a conservative level based on a benchmarking methodology’; and the implementation of two sets of spectrum competition caps, one for the sub-1GHz spectrum, and another for total spectrum holdings.
Feedback on the regulator’s plans is being accepted until 30 July 2019, with ComReg noting that a longer-than-normal consultation period – six weeks versus the standard four required by its consultation procedures – was due to ‘the complexity of material contained in the [consultation] document’. Following its receipt and consideration of submissions to the consultation, ComReg has said it will publish a response and a draft decision.