ComReg has awarded five mobile and internet service providers space on the country’s 3.6GHz spectrum, which has been identified as a primary band suitable for the introduction of 5G in Europe.

The award, conducted by auction, resulted in the successful assignment of all 350 MHz of spectrum.

Vodafone obtained 85 MHz in rural regions and 105 MHz in the cities, while Three secured 100 MHz nationally.

Meteor has been granted 80 MHz in the rural regions and 85 MHz in the cities, while Imagine (60 MHz in each of the rural regions) and Airspan (25 MHz in the rural regions and 60 MHz in the cities) also secured space.

The 3.6 GHz band is currently used for the provision of fixed wireless access services to about 25,000 customers, predominantly in rural areas.

Winning bidders will pay in excess of €78m, comprising €60.5m in upfront fees and around €17.7m in spectrum usage fees to be paid over the 15 year duration of the licences, which expire in 2032.

ComReg Chairperson Gerry Fahy said the result of the award process represents a "very good outcome for consumers, service providers and ComReg".

Vodafone said its spectrum allocations will ensure the company can deliver gigabit speeds across the country and advance the roll-out of new technologies.

CEO of Vodafone Ireland Anne O’Leary said: "In March this year, Vodafone was the first operator in Ireland to achieve mobile Gigabit speeds and the first to market with a live Internet of Things (NB-IoT) deployment.

"This new spectrum in the 3.6GHz band, combined with our €500m investment in Ireland over the next three years, will allow us to be first to market with the latest technologies, as well as continuing to give our customers the very best experience."

Three’s CEO Robert Finnegan said the mobile operator "wanted to secure 100MHz of 5G spectrum nationally and not to differentiate between rural and urban areas.

"We are delighted that we are the only bidder that was able to achieve that.

"We had two objectives going into this auction. First, we wanted to ensure that those living outside main city areas could enjoy the same service as urban dwellers, by securing uniform spectrum frequency for all rural and urban areas."