Regulator pulls plans for GSM broadband

29 Aug 2003

Mobile phone operators were told today that the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has decided not to pursue plans to allow operators to use up to 20pc of their GSM 1800MHz frequencies to provide broadband wireless services.

ComReg chairperson Etain Doyle said that to do so would have meant the companies would have had to transform themselves in such a way as they would eventually be indistinguishable as mobile phone companies.

It was initially proposed that in order to combat the worsening broadband infrastructure deficit in Ireland mobile operators could use part of their network to enable the deployment of broadband services.

Current GSM networks can deliver data speeds of up to 28Kbps, with the potential to reach 115Kbps. Such data rates can be delivered throughout the entire network coverage area, which extends well beyond the reach of existing fixed broadband platforms.

GSM networks have the potential to deliver even higher data rates but at the expense of significant degradation to mobility, coverage and the number of subscribers that can be supported.

In a statement this afternoon ComReg said that the mobile operators sought additional requirements “which would have resulted in a service which was indistinguishable in key aspects from a mobile telecommunications service, for which other licensing arrangements already apply”.

ComReg chairperson Etain Doyle said: “The Commission will continue to look for opportunities to facilitate the delivery of broadband wireless access services and wishes to leave open the possibilities for fixed wireless access services in the GSM 1800MHz band and for alternative technologies in the licensed 3G spectrum.”

The regulator reminded the mobile operators that there is still the matter of a 3G license that was not taken last year when the licenses were offered and that it was willing to launch a consultation on the matter if there were enough interested parties.

ComReg added that the convergence of services and applications is becoming a reality, but for now the differences between fixed and mobile communications companies “are still clearly distinguishable”.

By John Kennedy