ComReg, the statutory body responsible for the regulation of Ireland’s electronic communications and postal sectors, has been very busy of late. It is, clearly, concerned with many important issues but meeting future mobile connectivity needs and extending mobile coverage are two of the most pressing.

Which is where Real Wireless comes in. We were asked by the Irish regulator conduct a study on the Future Mobile Connectivity in Ireland. Working with Oxera Consulting LLP our task was, on the face of it, simple: to identify the future mobile connectivity services likely to emerge in Ireland and the estimated likely costs of providing connectivity to such services at high coverage levels.

High road density and a relatively small population, some of it spread widely over this predominantly rural country, are the main factors that will present a challenge to mobile connectivity in Ireland. Thus, working with coverage data, the distinctive characteristics of the country itself and potential services that might meet the country’s needs, we ran simulations for different coverage targets and different throughput levels and estimated the likely costs that might be involved.

Our key finding was that enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) will continue to play a key role in extending mobile capacity and coverage in Ireland. We also found that, beyond a certain level of coverage, the cost of providing MBB services to the population rises exponentially. Higher data speeds also have a very material effect on costs. On the upside, we found that due to the unique characteristics in Ireland targeting population coverage leads to a reasonable amount of incidental coverage of geography and roads, a potential saving compared to a primary focus on geographical coverage.

Our study will inform ComReg’s award proposals for its forthcoming spectrum awards and, in particular, its consideration of appropriate coverage obligations.

This is a fascinating market and one that offers some interesting challenges for mobile connectivity. And that’s not just the view of wireless professionals like us: the report has already made the front page of the Irish Times.

by: Dr. Abhaya Sumanasena and Dr. Kostas Konstantinou.

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