The Commissioner for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has for the first time joined forces with Ofcom, the UK and Northern Ireland communications regulator, to award wireless broadband spectrum. The licences are expected to be awarded by auction in 2006.
The wireless spectrum will cover the band 1785-1805MHz that could be used for deploying innovative data and telecoms services across wireless broadband.
Because radio waves can cross national borders and present difficult challenges when assigning spectrum in the Republic and Northern Ireland, Ofcom and ComReg came together to ensure that the key elements of each licence awarded will be identical insofar as is practical while being legally separate in each jurisdiction.
ComReg said this will allow operators to use the spectrum more efficiently and take advantages of the economies of scale that can be enjoyed in a larger market.
As well as this consumers will have access to identical services provided seamlessly on both sides of the border, with knock on regional development benefits for businesses. Until now, for example, exorbitant mobile roaming charges accrued by businesspeople and consumers has been a thorny sometimes political issue.
According to ComReg, there will be a single licence awarded by ComReg in the Republic and another soon after by Ofcom in Northern Ireland.
Both auctions will be decided by a single round of sealed bids and the winning bidder will pay the second highest price bid. The proposed reserve price for the Irish licence is €150k.
It is understood that the licences will be technological and application neutral, and the licence in Ireland will have an initial minimum period of 15 years. A deadline of 2 March next has been set for responses.
By John Kennedy