Dublin, 24 July 2014
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White T.D., today published a spectrum policy consultation paper. The Minister said "This consultation marks the first step in a comprehensive review of Ireland's radio frequency spectrum policy and a further step in meeting the commitments made in the National Broadband Plan".
The review of spectrum policy is timely and important. The importance of spectrum was recognised in the National Broadband Plan which saw a need for a review of spectrum policy to advance commercial investment in mobile technologies. "As demand for applications that rely on spectrum continues apace, Government is determined to ensure that the Irish spectrum planning and management regime is sufficiently responsive" Minister White said. "It is important that it supports competition, innovation, research and development in new spectrum-based services and applications and contributes to sustainable economic and social development."
Government recognises that spectrum is a valuable national asset and is critical to Ireland's economic wellbeing. The fact that mobile operators will pay €864 million for the spectrum that was auctioned by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) in 2012 is testament to its value. That auction has resulted in the rollout of 4G services by mobile operators in Ireland and citizens are benefitting from the improved mobile services.
As well as the critical economic role of spectrum, spectrum contributes to broader social and public roles, and it is necessary to ensure that adequate spectrum is available for essential government services in areas such as safety and security, leisure uses, public service broadcasting, research and scientific applications such as meteorology.
The Minister stated "Irish citizens depend on spectrum every day in a variety of ways and in this sense every citizen is a stakeholder. In formulating a new national spectrum policy, we need to take account of the diverse use of the radio spectrum and the desired policy goals. Our national spectrum policy must balance different sectoral priorities in a transparent and clear manner. I am committed to ensuring that the national spectrum resource is used effectively and efficiently so that we can boost our competitiveness, and improve the quality of life for our citizens".
The consultation paper poses a number of questions to stakeholders on current and future policy, as well as questions on the legislative framework. All submissions received will be considered in full and will inform the Department's deliberations in its updating of the policy and legislation in this area.
Submissions, in electronic form, may be made to the following dedicated mailbox: SpectrumPolicyConsultation@dcenr.ie or by post to Spectrum Policy Consultation, Communications Policy Division, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, 29-31 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2. The closing date for responses is Friday 26th September 2014.
Notes for Editors
Every citizen uses services which rely on spectrum on a daily basis - be it broadband, using their mobile phones, security gadgets, availing of weather reports or using the real time transport service to see when the next bus is due, using taxis, watching television or listening to the radio.
It is clear that from a cultural, leisure and economic perspective right up to the defence of our society, the use of spectrum impacts on the daily lives of citizens. It therefore needs to be used as effectively and efficiently as possible for the good of the State - both economic and social – and the good of all its citizens.
The Department is responsible for the development of effective policies for the regulation and optimum use of Ireland's national radio frequency spectrum, underpinned by an appropriate legislative framework.
The current Spectrum Policy Statement was published by the Department in September 2010 and needs to be revisited in light of the rapid technological changes and the increased demands on this limited and valuable resource. This review of spectrum policy is also in line with commitments contained in the National Broadband Plan (NBP).
The purpose of this consultation is to assist the Department in its consideration of spectrum policy issues and the development of updated legislation in this area.
The implementation of those national policies then rests with the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), an independent body under the aegis of the Department. It has statutory responsibility for the efficient management and use of the radio spectrum within the policy and legal framework set by the Government and the EU.
Spectrum management is the overall process of regulation and administering access to, and use of, the radio frequency spectrum. The management of spectrum at the national level requires ComReg to make decisions on spectrum usage within Ireland. In making such decisions ComReg must balance international considerations, impact on existing users, EU legislative framework and national requirements and in addition must consider such issues as political and policy consideration, spectrum availability, technical issues relating to avoidance of interference, the usage of the spectrum in neighbouring countries, equipment availability and spectrum demand.
Objectives of Spectrum policy
The Minister is committed to ensuring that:
(i) the national spectrum resource is managed and used effectively and efficiently so as to ensure that Ireland does not lag behind the development of world-class communications infrastructures, technologies and services for the express purpose of raising our competitiveness, contributing to our economic development and improving the quality of life of our citizens (e.g. mobile phone, broadband, short range devices, business radio etc.); and
(ii) adequate amount of useful spectrum continues to be available for a wide range of uses such as the provision of public interest uses including essential government services in areas such as aeronautical and maritime safety and security, for public service broadcasting, amateur radio and scientific applications, such as meteorology, and also for leisure uses.
The full public consultation document is available at: http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Communications/Communications+Policy/Consultations/