Competition for parts of radio spectrum announced

15 Aug 2006

The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) is to sell off access to parts of the radio spectrum in the 26GHz frequency and is inviting bidders such as telecommunications companies, wireless internet providers or mobile operators.

Licences in this band were previously made available on a link-by-link or base station-by-base station basis, whereby ComReg would subsequently decide what frequencies could be used in certain locations. However, with more demands on the radio spectrum than ever before, the regulator opted to change how it allocates access following a consultation on spectrum strategy last year.

It’s believed that the advantages in giving organisations access to an entire block of spectrum is that they would have greater flexibility to manage their own frequency allocations to ensure the greatest efficiency and minimum interference.

The licences will cover the provision of point-to-point and point-to-multipoint fixed links only. According to ComReg, the 26GHz part of the spectrum is suitable for voice or data services and for a range of applications such as broadband backhaul, network connectivity between the network core and a network access node (for example, a mobile phone base station) or end-user.

Each of the 17 blocks for sale comprises 2x28MHz of spectrum in the 26GHz band and has a reserve price of €1m. However, if demand exceeds supply, ComReg said that it will auction the blocks of spectrum with bidding set in excess of the reserve price. No one applicant will be allowed to hold more than six licences. A spokesman said it was too early to gauge interest from applicants.

Speaking about the competition, ComReg chairperson Isolde Goggin said: “While recognising the continuing needs of light users of the spectrum, we believe the availability of national licences in the 26GHz band will offer high-volume users of spectrum greater flexibility and opportunities for more efficient network planning and use of spectrum.”

By Gordon Smith