Ireland has become the latest European country to lay the foundations for a 4G rollout.
The Irish communications regulator ComReg on Thursday announced the results of its spectrum auction, which saw packages of spectrum in the 800Mhz, 900Mhz and 1800Mhz bands sold off – 140Mhz of paired spectrum in total.
O2, Vodafone, Three and Meteor, the mobile arm of Ireland's incumbent telco Eircom, all won blocks of spectrum, and are expected to launch LTE services in the coming years.
Vodafone won the largest allocation of spectrum. "The acquisition by Vodafone of new and additional spectrum allows the company to increase its capacity to provide data in urban areas and enable Vodafone to deliver the widest mobile broadband coverage in rural areas from 2013," the company said in a statement.
The spectrum licences awarded this week last either from 2015 to 2030, or from 2013 to 2015, raising the possibility Ireland may get its first major LTE rollout from as early as next year.
The spectrum-winning operators will need to ensure that any networks launched using the spectrum achieve at least 70 percent coverage by population, and have no more than 35 minutes of downtime every six months.
The spectrum auction raised €854.64m, ComReg said, made up of €481.7m in upfront fees and €372.95m in spectrum usage fees.