Ireland’s telecoms regulator publishes its Decision on multi-band spectrum auction

On 16 March, the Irish telecoms regulator, ComReg, published its Response to Consultation and Decision for the auction of rights of use of radio frequencies in the 800MHz, 900MHz and 1800 MHz bands.

Having taken into consideration changes in the market and legislative climate over the course of the consultation process and considered the views expressed by the interested parties over the same period, ComReg set out its final position on the auction process.

The auction will take the form of a combinatorial clock auction (CCA) and, to accommodate the current expiry dates of GSM licence assignments, spectrum rights of use will be auctioned across two time periods, applicable to each of the three bands being auctioned. The first period will run from 1 February 2013 to 12 July 2015 and the second period will run from 13 July 2015 to 12 July 2030.
To safeguard competition, ComReg has set the spectrum caps at 2x20MHz of sub-1GHz
Spectrum; 2x50MHz of total spectrum; and an additional cap of 2x10MHz of 900MHz spectrum applied in the first time slice only. Further, minimum prices are currently calculated as €20m per 2x5MHz lot of sub-1 GHz spectrum and €10m per 2x5MHz lot of 1800MHz spectrum for a 15 year licence. These minimum prices are based on a conservative lower bound of an internationally benchmarked level. The minimum prices will be finalised in advance of the auction to update for any changes to input factors.
ComReg has also finalised and incorporated the following features into the Decision:

  • an ‘Early Liberalisation’ option affecting the 900MHz and 1800MHz licence- holders whose current rights have yet to expire;
  • ‘Preparatory Licences’ to assist parties who have been successful in the award process in preparing networks in advance of the spectrum being permitted for use;
  • ‘Transitional Arrangements’ addressing the arrangements for operators to move across and within bands to their spectrum-use rights location as determined in this award process;
  • ‘Advanced Commencement’ provisions, potentially allowing earlier use, on a liberalised basis, of the spectrum usage rights won in the award process, subject to certain conditions; and
  • trading of spectrum will be permitted in these spectrum bands.

DotEcon has been advising ComReg throughout the consultation process and a report including its views and recommendations as they relate to and address respondent’s views was issues alongside ComReg’s Response to Consultation and Decision. This report can be downloaded here. DotEcon continues to advise ComReg on the design of the auction and will assist in finalising detailed auction rules ahead of implementing the auction using its WebBidder software. ComReg’s Response to Consultation and Decision can be found here.

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