4G spectrum auctions in Ireland have netted the government EUR854.64 million, the country’s regulator has announced.

ComReg said that EUR481.7 million in upfront fees would go directly to the exchequer, while a further EUR372.95 million in usage fees would be collected over the course of the licences, which are valid until 2030 in some cases.

The airwaves – covering the 800, 900 and 1800MHz bands – were acquired by Ireland’s four operators Vodafone, O2, Eircom-owned Meteor and 3. Market-leader Vodafone was the biggest spender, shelling-out EUR160.85 million in upfront fees.

“[These auctions are] a vital step that promotes competition and allows the next generation of advanced mobile services to be made available to Irish consumers and businesses from next year,” noted ComReg’s chairperson, Alex Chisholm.

According to reports O2 has committed to begin its 4G/LTE rollout in the first half of 2013. To ensure quick deployment, all license holders are required to make their new spectrum available to 70 percent of Ireland's population within three years.

The government highlighted the fact that auctions fetched significantly more than the EUR500 million target. "The proceeds of the auction are greater than many people expected and are a statement of confidence in the economy," Ireland’s Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte told Reuters.