Mobile, broadband suppliers to be given extra radio spectrum

‘Imperative’ that networks can cope during Covid-19 outbreak, says ComReg

ComReg has given mobile and broadband operators two days to reply to a consultation paper. Photograph: iStock

ComReg has given mobile and broadband operators two days to reply to a consultation paper. Photograph: iStock

 

Mobile telephone and broadband suppliers are to be given extra radio spectrum to gather for the huge increase in demand provoked by the Covid-19 crisis, the Commission for Communications Regulation has said.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, now more than ever, people are depending on our communications networks to stay connected with relatives and friends, for teaching purposes and to work remotely. The increased demand for connectivity poses challenges to operators and their networks,” it said.

Saying that it is “imperative” that mobile and wireless networks are able to cope with demand, ComReg said it had worked with telecoms operators in recent days to ensure measures are in place “to manage and handle the surge in voice and data traffic”.

Extra radio spectrum in the 700MHz and the 2.6GHz bands has been approved by ComReg, along with a temporary liberalisation of 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.

ComReg commissioner Jeremy Godfrey said the regulator had moved quickly 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,” he said.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister for Communications Richard Bruton said the public is “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,” the Minister declared in a statement released shortly after 9pm

ComReg has given mobile and broadband operators two days to reply to a consultation paper. A final decision will be made as soon as possible “so that this radio spectrum can be released quickly and our networks can provide more capacity to cater for the rise in demand”.