Sunday 30 April 2017

State could raise €260m in 4G phone licence sale

Louise McBride

Louise McBride

THE Government -- under pressure from the IMF and the EU to sell off about €2bn worth of State assets -- could raise as much as €260m by cashing in on the demand for smart phones.

Irish 4G licences -- which would pave the way for the rollout of super smartphones, such as the next generation of android and iPhones -- could be sold for between €180m and €260m, according to industry sources.

The high speed 4G network will make watching HD television on your phone a less juddery experience.

However, the auction of the 4G Irish licences, which was originally planned for the end of this year, has been delayed until early 2012.

"The 4G auction is expected to take place early next year," said a spokesman for the telecommunications regulator, ComReg, which is managing the rollout of Ireland's 4G network.

An exact date has not yet been set for the auction. The Sunday Independent understands that bureaucracy -- largely arising from lengthy consultations on the licences -- is behind the delays.

There have also been requests for more time to submit comments to 4G consultations, adding to delays, according to a source.

Mobile phone operators have already expressed concern at the slow rollout of 4G in Ireland.

"We're calling on ComReg for the earliest possible auction," said a spokeswoman for 3 Ireland. "It is critical that this auction is not delayed any further to ensure Ireland remains competitive and continues to attract investment".

Other European countries are already rolling out 4G. Germany raised over €4bn from last year's auction of its licences last year; France sold 4G licences for €936m last month; and Sweden raised about €226m from the sale of 4G licences earlier this year. The British telecom regulator, Ofcom, will publish the terms of its 4G licences next month.

Last August, ComReg described the deadline of the end of this year for its 4G auction as "challenging".

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