ComReg unveils winners of 5G spectrum auction

James Pearce
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Irish regulator raised more than €78 million by auctioning off 3.6GHz spectrum licences to five bidders

Irish regulator ComReg has revealed that five operators spent more than €78 million in its most recent 5G spectrum auction.

The auction, which was for spectrum in the 3.6GHz band, saw the assignment of all 350MHz of spectrum in 594 lots spread across nine regions.

The 3.6GHz band has been identified by the Radio Spectrum Policy Group as a key spectrum band for the deployment of 5G services across Europe, meaning the auction could play an important role in the future of the mobile industry in Ireland. 

Vodafone Ireland spent €22.8 million and took home 85MHz for use in rural regions and 105MHz for the cities – the largest amount taken by any operator.

Vodafone Ireland CEO Anne O’Leary said: “We are very pleased that Vodafone Ireland’s spectrum will enable us to deliver on our commitment to the Gigabit Society in Ireland.

Meteor, a subsidiary of incumbent eir, won 85MHz for cities and 80MHz for rural deployments, at a cost $15.6 million.

Hutchison’s Three Ireland, which bought O2 in 2015, spent €20.3 million on 100MHz of nationwide spectrum.

“Three wanted to secure 100MHz of 5G spectrum nationally and not to differentiate between rural and urban areas. We are delighted that we are the only bidder that was able to achieve that,” Three Ireland chief Robert Finnegan said.

Wireless ISP Imagine Communications bagged the rights to 60MHz of spectrum in rural regions, while new entrant Airspan Spectrum Holdings, part of US small cells solutions and mobile RAN firm Airspan, also bid. It took 25MHz in the rural regions and 60MHz in the cities, at a cost of €9.7 million.

ComReg chairperson Gerry Fahy said: "The result of the 3.6GHz award represents a very good outcome for consumers, service providers and ComReg.

"All 350 MHz of available spectrum, across the entire country, has been assigned at an important time as demand for wireless communications services continues to grow. Continuity for existing services has been underpinned and the possibility of new services has been significantly enhanced.”