Four telecoms companies will pay the State a total of €854.6m to buy new licences to offer next generation mobile services.

They are Vodafone, Eircom's Meteor, Telefonica, which owns O2, and Hutchinson 3G Ireland.

They will pay an upfront fee and annual charges for usage until 2030.

The auction allows the telecoms companies offer 4G services, such as faster mobile broadband.

The companies will also pay annual charges for usage until 2030.

Chairman of ComReg Alex Chisholm said the amount paid for the licences exceeded their expectations.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Mr Chisholm said: "They are a very strong set of results, we didn't provide a forecast before but we did put in place some minimum prices, and these have certainly exceeded those prices."

"We thought there would be excess demand and it seems there has been, and also the strong bidding must reflect the confidence that the bidders and the operators in the market have in the Irish electronic communications sector and the potential they see there," he said.