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ComReg to release more radio spectrum to boost mobile phone & broadband capacity

The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has today moved to release extra radio spectrum to provide additional capacity for mobile phone and broadband provision due to the steep increase in the use of mobile networks.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, now more than ever, people are depending on our communications networks to stay connected with relatives & friends, for teaching purposes and to work remotely. The increased demand for connectivity poses challenges to operators and their networks. It is imperative that our mobile and wireless networks are able to carry extra voice and data traffic on their systems during this period.

Over the last number of days, ComReg has been engaging with the telecoms operators to ensure that the necessary measures and plans have been put in place by networks to manage and handle the surge in voice and data traffic.

In light of the current extraordinary situation, ComReg is acting to release extra radio spectrum in the 700 MHz and the 2.6 GHz bands to allow mobile network operators to cater for the increase in voice and data traffic over their networks, as well as liberalising the use of the currently licensed 2.1 GHz band so that it can be used for 4G and other technologies, rather than just for 3G. This will be a temporary measure in response to the current situation.

ComReg has today issued a consultation paper which sets out the conditions for use of this radio spectrum.  The purpose of the ComReg paper is to provide guidance to industry and ensure that mobile network operators can utilise this spectrum as quickly as possible.

Given the urgency of the matter, ComReg has given interested parties two business days to respond to its proposals. ComReg plans to make its final decision as soon as possible thereafter so that this radio spectrum can be released quickly and our networks can provide more capacity to cater for the rise in demand for voice and data services.

ComReg Commissioner, Jeremy Godfrey said: “Given the extraordinary growth in usage of mobile services, ComReg is moving at pace to provide mobile operators with the flexibility to deploy additional radio spectrum, where this can be of immediate use.  ComReg will continue to engage with industry and support telecoms companies to ensure that our telecoms networks continue to meet users’ needs during these extremely challenging and evolving times.”

Welcoming the announcement the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton, TD said: “We are now more dependent on electronic communications networks and services than we have ever been before. It is imperative that communications networks and systems continue to work and cater for our changed social and economic needs during the Covid-19 situation.”

Find the full document here.

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