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Compromise said close on phone license plan

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

DUBLIN — Ireland’s telecommunications regulator, Etain Doyle, hinted Monday that a year-long dispute over the cost of four next-generation mobile phone licenses could be settled shortly, the Irish Times has reported.

The licenses would enable firms in the Republic to provide multimedia services to hand-held mobile devices at speeds faster than current technologies allow.

At a press conference, Doyle said she expected this round of discussions with the Department for Finance to be concluded “very shortly.”

Industry sources believe the regulator wants to charge about _31.5 million for each license, while Finance Minister Charles McCreevy is seeking double that price.

Doyle is keen to attract competition to the mobile market and wants to encourage firms with lower license costs, while McCreevy wants to maximize revenue.

It is understood intense discussions are taking place on the issue of scheduling payments for mobile operators over a number of years.

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This would remove the immediate burden on mobile operators, many of whom are saddled with debt after paying as much as _90 million for similar licenses in Europe.

Ultan Ryan, a telecommunications expert with Mason Communications, said large once-off payments would not attract operators, who would prefer a system based on paying the treasury a percentage of the revenue generated by services.

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