UK firm wins all-Ireland wireless licence

30 Apr 2007

The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) announced on Friday that British company Personal Broadband UK has won the auction for use of a new radio spectrum in the Republic of Ireland.

This spectrum band, 1785 to 1805MHz, had been previously unused in the Republic.

It is expected that the UK Office of Communications, (OfCom), will announce their results in the next few weeks.

This licence means a 15-year technology and service-neutral licence for Personal Broadband, at a cost of €205,000. Technology neutral means that Personal Broadband can use mobile communications and other short-range technology on this spectrum in Northern Ireland.

However, in the Republic, only some of this spectrum is permitted for use by mobile communications on a licence-exempt, non-interference and un-protected basis. The rest of the bandwidth is currently being considered for inclusion on this basis also.

The auction was a joint venture, which OfCom said was “a new milestone in co-operation” between ComReg, and its UK equivalent, the Office of Communications (OfCom).

“This auction is the result of continuing close co-operation between the two telecom regulators on the island of Ireland. This licence has the potential to introduce more competition in wireless markets in Ireland for the benefit of consumers,” said Mike Byrne, chairperson of ComReg.

“ComReg will continue to work closely with Ofcom with the objective of introducing services to benefit businesses and consumers throughout the island of Ireland,” he said.

Jim Cooney, representing Personal Broadband in its consultation submission to ComReg and OfCom, said this was the first opportunity for a cross-border radio telecoms initiative between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and that it was an achievable goal.

In applying for this licence he addressed issues that might make a cross-border network difficult in practice. “This is a controversial topic in Ireland, particularly for mobile communications users in border areas who find themselves incurring international roaming charges when they involuntarily log onto the neighbouring network,” he said in the consultation submission.

By Marie Boran