The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), the Irish national regulatory authority, and the current Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton TD have signed new regulations that will allow the release of additional radio spectrum to create extra capacity for mobile phone and broadband services. These are temporary measures taken in response to a sharp increase in the use of mobile networks, as people rely more heavily on their operators to communicate and stay connected during COVID-19 social distancing.
According to ComReg, mobile operators have coped well with increased usage so far, but they have currently less headroom to accommodate further spikes in demand. ComReg Commissioner, Jeremy Godfrey, said, “The provision of this spectrum will help the mobile providers cater for the increased demand on their networks. ComReg will continue to work with industry and will support operators so that telecoms networks may continue to meet demand during these unprecedented times.”
“Now, more than ever we are depending on technology to connect with others and to access services,” said Minister Richard Bruton. “These regulations will ensure that our mobile network operators have the capacity to accommodate the increase in demand. I’d like to thank ComReg for responding to this need so quickly.”
The Irish telco regulator has introduced the regulations following rapid and constructive consultations with Eir, Three, Vodafone and Virgin Media, along with RTÉ and the Irish Aviation Authority. The additional radio spectrum will be released in the 700 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands, with changed conditions for the use of 2.1 GHz to ensure it can serve not only 3G, but also 4G and other technologies.
ComReg stated that mobile operators will be able to apply for temporary licenses valid for a maximum of three months, with the possibility of renewing their licenses for another three months if the current situation continues. A nominal fee is EUR 100 per license, and telcos can apply immediately so that they can utilize this spectrum as quickly as possible.