ComReg confirms general consensus from industry that all five bands should be included in any upcoming radio spectrum awards – although not necessarily in the same award process.
The update issued on 16 February contains only brief details of developments and next steps. Specific comments are made only in respect of the 3.6 GHz band and 700 MHz band.
As regards the 3.6 GHz band, while there seems to be general consensus for inclusion of this band, ComReg has reported in its update that there appears to be broad support from industry that release of rights in this band should be conducted in a separate award process. ComReg has confirmed that it expects to issue a consultation on using a separate competitive award process for this band during summer 2015.
In terms of the 700 MHz band, ComReg has confirmed that it has engaged expert external consultants to carry out a Cost Benefit Analysis (“CBA”) of the likely costs and benefits (economic, social and cultural) of RTÉ and Programme Making and Special Events users (“PMSEs”) migrating out of the 700 MHz band into the remainder of the UHF Band. Readers of previous ezines will be familiar with the fact that the 700 MHz band is currently licensed in Ireland for the provision of digital terrestrial television (“DTT”) and is also used on a temporary basis for PMSE licences. Two DTT public service broadcasting (“PSB”) multiples licences have been issued to State broadcaster, RTÉ – and given that the licences are not due to expire until 2019, a CBA analysis is necessary to determine whether this band should in fact be included in a wider spectrum award process. ComReg has indicated that it hopes to issue a consultation on the results of the CBA study (once completed) during Q2 2015.
For those interested in following developments in more detail, copies of the non-confidential submissions made to ComReg in response to its October 2014 consultation (ComReg 14/101) can be found here.