Ireland’s Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) and communications minister Ricard Bruton have signed regulations which will enable the former to release additional rights of use for radio spectrum on a temporary basis. The industry watchdog claims the move will give mobile network operators (MNOs) flexibility to create extra capacity for mobile phone and broadband services, and the freeing up of frequencies is part of the country’s measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. While the nation’s mobile networks are reported to have coped well with extra usage resulting from the health crisis, ComReg noted that MNOs ‘currently have less headroom to accommodate further increases or potential spikes in demand’.
To that end, the watchdog has issued a press release confirming that the new regulations allow for the release of extra radio spectrum in the 700MHz and 2.6GHz bands, while also changing conditions for the use of the 2.1GHz band so that it can be used for 4G and other technologies, rather than just for 3G. Cellcos will be able to apply for temporary licences that run for a maximum of three months as per the new regulations, although should the current situation continue for longer, holders of temporary licences may apply for a renewal for up to a further three months. A nominal fee of EUR100 (USD109) per concession will apply and MNOs are able to apply for them immediately.
Commenting, Minister Bruton said: ‘Now, more than ever we are depending on technology to connect with others and to access services. These regulations will ensure that our mobile network operators have the capacity to accommodate the increase in demand. I’d like to thank ComReg for responding to this need so quickly.’ ComReg Commissioner Jeremy Godfrey added: ‘The provision of this spectrum will help the mobile providers cater for increased demand on their networks. ComReg will continue to work with industry and will support operators so that telecoms networks may continue to meet demand during these unprecedented times.’