High Court grants stay on the start of ComReg’s multi-band spectrum auction

25 Jul 2022

Ireland’s Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has announced that the High Court has made an order granting a stay on the auction of spectrum in several bands which had been scheduled to get underway today (25 July).

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, earlier this month Three Ireland asked the High Court to halt the multi-band spectrum auction while it awaited judgment on its main challenge to ComReg’s December 2020 decision to auction the rights across the 700MHz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands. With the sale process set to utilise a ‘combinatorial clock’ format – whereby participants bid on generic lots of spectrum, rather than individual lots – Three claimed this format would put it at a competitive disadvantage.

Now, issuing a press release regarding the High Court’s ruling, ComReg noted that the stay has been granted ‘subject to Three providing certain undertakings’, while Mr Justice McDonald was said to have expressed the view that the stay will remain in place ‘for no more than a few months’. That being said, with ComReg noting that the effect of this judgment is that its multi-band spectrum auction is now effectively suspended from progressing any further pending a final ruling, it has suggested that is unlikely to be able to issue new long-term licences in advance of existing concession expiring on 15 October 2022. Given that, the regulator is seeking submissions to a consultation in which it has proposed the issuing of short-term rights of use for spectrum in the 2100MHz band.