O2 Ireland has thrown down the gauntlet to rival 3G operators Vodafone and 3 with the launch of a new mobile broadband service offering theoretical download speeds of up to 3Mbps with 10GB worth of data downloads via a USB modem, at an introductory price (first three months) of EUR15 per month. The plan is available both to existing and new O2 contract customers (it will cost EUR20 to other customers) and will rise to EUR30 per month for customers with a voice connection and EUR40 per month for all other customers after the initial three-month period. The USB modem will cost around EUR69 and will utilise O2’s HSDPA network in the Republic which it claims is available to 75% of the population at launch. In addition, O2 is rolling out EDGE to provide improved enhanced 2G services in areas where no HSDPA network is present.
O2’s new service will pit it against Vodafone and 3 Ireland, both of which have released broadband offerings in the past year. Local press sources suggest the Republic is gearing up for an all-out price war to win subscribers in the burgeoning
mobile broadband market, which is estimated to number more than 40,000 users via laptops or PDAs. One unnamed mobile operator estimates that more than a quarter of a million home owners could switch to mobile broadband in the short-term, rather than using more traditional fixed line access technologies. Meanwhile, 3 Ireland, which controlled 3.13% of the domestic market at the end of March with an estimated 150,000 users, is expected to contribute to the European Three Group’s half-year target of EBITDA breakeven for the first half of 2007, writes The Sunday Tribune.