On 25 May, Ireland’s telecoms regulator, ComReg, published the details of its planned radio spectrum auction following a series of public consultations on the proposals. The award process offers for allocation spectrum usage rights across three critical bands – 800MHz, 900MHz and 1800MHz – for the period 2013 to 2030. In total, 280MHz of sub-2 GHz spectrum (i.e. 140MHz of paired spectrum) will be made available, more than doubling the currently licensed assignments in these particular bands.
Spectrum usage rights in these bands shall be subject to a minimum price of €m per lot of 5 MHz of paired sub-1 GHz spectrum, and €m per lot of 5 MHz of paired 1800 MHz spectrum for a 15-year licence. An auction will only take place if demand expressed at the application stage of the award process exceeds the available spectrum; otherwise, it will be allocated at the minimum prices.
If the award process does include an auction, it will follow the combinatorial clock auction format. This format was developed by Ofcom and DotEcon for a series of UK spectrum auctions. It has been used for the Danish, Dutch and Austrian 2.6GHz auctions, and the Swiss multi-band auction. The format is also proposed for use in a number of future spectrum auctions currently under consultation.
To accommodate the expiry dates of current GSM licences, spectrum usage rights will be auctioned across two time periods, applicable to each of the three bands being auctioned. It is intended that the first period will run from 1 February 2013 to 12 July 2015, the end date for the last of the remaining GSM licences, and the second period will run from 13 July 2015 to 12 July 2030.
DotEcon has provided advice on all aspects of the award since ComReg’s second consultation on the award of liberalised spectrum in the 900MHz band, published in December 2009, and is set to implement the current proposals in the event that an auction is required.