Irish alternative operator Smart Telecom and 3G-only mobile operator 3 Ireland plan to increase their share of the domestic broadband market through a series of new product launches and initiatives. Smart will introduce a raft of products designed to improve the country’s standing in the European broadband league and lift it into the top ten with a range of packages offering customers connection speeds of between 4Mbps and 15Mbps (downstream), with prices starting at EUR15 (USD22.7) per month. Smart’s new broadband package will be made available to at least half a million consumers in Dublin, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Laois, Limerick, Louth, Sligo and Waterford. For its part, 3 Ireland is looking to grow its mobile broadband base organically with the launch of a new pre-paid offer. Targeting the student market and international customers looking for a non-rental option, 3 is trumpeting its ‘3Pay Vouchers’ system which offers one day of internet access for EUR5. This will be in addition to the 60,000 or so users already signed up to its contract-based mobile broadband service.
In a separate story, 3 Ireland is believed to have walked away from a deal to acquire rival Irish mobile operator Meteor, currently owned by eircom. Sources familiar with the situation indicate that talks between 3 Ireland and the former monopoly over a deal to purchase Meteor ended last week. It is claimed that several key officials at the 3G operator met with counterparts at eircom on a number of occasions, although eircom has denied holding negotiations over a possible Meteor deal. Hutchison Whampoa-backed 3 Ireland apparently pulled out after it concluded it would not make a significant return on its investment if it bought the mobile operator. Officials at 3 believe it would prove too costly to up sell mobile broadband and other high value services to Meteor’s mainly ‘low-spending’ customers.