Ireland’s telecoms regulator the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has issued the country’s fourth 3G mobile phone licence to eircom, which will pay a total of EUR114.3 million (USD150.2 million) for the concession. The former monopoly has paid the upfront fee of EUR44.4 million and is scheduled to pay the remainder in instalments over the next 15 years. ComReg hopes the introduction of a fourth UMTS player in the market will bolster competition, improve choice, and drive down prices. Under the terms of the award, eircom is required to provide 33% demographic coverage by end-September 2008, rising to 53% by end-September 2009 and 83% coverage by end-October 2012.
Details of eircom’s rollout plans are as yet unclear, with a spokesman for the firm telling reporters: ‘The actual network rollout and implementation has yet to be decided upon.’ It is also unclear whether or not the incumbent intends to market UMTS services under its own brand name or through its wireless subsidiary Meteor Mobile, acquired for EUR420 million in 2005.