The Irish Examiner reports that Vodafone Ireland plans to roll out fourth-generation (4G) mobile services in the Republic by the summer of 2013. The paper cites the cellco’s chief executive Jeroen Hoencamp as saying: ‘We will see 4G probably at the end of the first half of next year and then roll out very fast [by the summer of 2013].’ The operator’s chief technology officer Fergal Kelly added that the new network will hopefully benefit those who currently have limited 3G connectivity in the country.
Vodafone secured the largest allocation of 4G mobile spectrum at the Commission for Communications Regulation’s (ComReg’s) auction last month, buying blocks freed up by the switching off of analogue TV signals. As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the watchdog raised EUR855 million (USD1.1 billion) from the sale of mobile frequencies capable of supporting fourth-generation services, providing a welcome boost to the government’s coffers. ‘The proceeds of the auction are greater than many people expected and are a statement of confidence in the economy,’ the Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte was quoted as saying.
The Republic’s incumbent mobile operators Eircom-owned Meteor Mobile, Hutchison Whampoa’s H3G Ireland, Telefonica O2 Ireland and Vodafone Ireland each secured 17-year licences, agreeing to pay EUR481 million in total upfront and the balance over the term of the licences, which are due to expire in 2030. The minister did not give a deadline for the 4G networks to be operational but did herald the sale as an opportunity for operators to deploy services rapidly to help ‘maintain and boost [the] country’s competitiveness’.
O2 Ireland reportedly bid EUR125 million to secure ten blocks of spectrum and is planning to invest a further EUR200 million over the next three years to upgrade its network to 4G. 3 Ireland paid EUR51.1 million for eight blocks of spectrum – saying it does not need as many packages to serve its customers because it is not supporting old 2G technology – while Meteor Mobile offered EUR145 million for twelve blocks. Vodafone’s local unit meanwhile, paid EUR161 million – also securing twelve blocks in the process. All four operators have pledged to begin 4G upgrades next year.