Eircom first to market with 4G in Ireland; Vodafone to follow ‘next month’

26 Sep 2013

Irish telecoms group Eircom has announced the launch of Ireland’s first 4G mobile service offering superfast mobile data speeds that are up to ten times faster than previously available. In a press release the company said that users of its Meteor Mobile and eMobile brand services can expect peak speeds will reach between 20Mbps to 25Mbps, and in technical trials the operator has clocked speeds of more than 60Mbps. The launch has been facilitated by the group’s EUR330 million (USD445 million) investment in mobile services, part of Eircom’s EUR1.5 billion commitment to Ireland’s telecoms infrastructure. With network reach expected to hit 43% of the population by December 2013, Eircom is looking to draw in new subscribers with the offer of free mobile data until March 2014.

The Irish firm’s 4G offering is available as part of both bundled and standalone offerings, and is currently live in Dublin, Carlow and Athlone, providing service coverage to 1.2 million customers, almost 30% of the population. Over the coming weeks, rollout will continue to other key urban areas including Cork, Galway and Limerick. Consumers and business customers will require a 4G handset/device and a 4G SIM card to take advantage of the service and can choose from a range of post pay tariffs either as part of a bundle or as a standalone mobile offer. The list of consumer tariffs includes: Meteor Smart Essential, available from EUR49 per month, which includes unlimited calls and texts, plus 3GB monthly data allowance, and a 4G phone for free; and Eircom Bundle with eMobile Unlimited Data for EUR69 per month for new customers, which includes 4G mobile, superfast eFibre and home phone. Existing Eircom customers can add 4G mobile for EUR24 per month for the first six months. Meanwhile, business customers can choose an Eircom business bundle from EUR60 ex VAT per month that includes 4G mobile, eFibre superfast broadband and a fixed line. Finally, eMobile’s Business Unlimited plan offers a free 4G smartphone at EUR30 ex VAT with unlimited calls and texts and 15GB of data.

In a related development, Vodafone Ireland has revealed plans to launch 4G mobile phone services in six cities and 26 towns ‘in mid-October’. The towns targeted include Dublin, Kilkenny, Cork, Galway, Waterford, Limerick and large towns in the South East and South West of Ireland, according to Vodafone’s head of networks, Sheila Kavanagh. The areas targeted in the south and west include Carlow, Tralee, Wexford, Midleton, Ballincollig, Mallow, Cobh, Killarney, Enniscorthy, Dungarvan, New Ross, Carrigtohill, Macroom, Mitchelstown, Bantry, Blarney, Kanturk, Bagnelstown, Thomastown, Kenmare, Bunclody, Newmarket, Dunmanway, Lismore and Rosslare Harbour. This would represent between 40% and 55% of the country’s population at the time of launch, the official said. Vodafone Ireland says that there will be no additional charge for some smartphone plans, but that a pre-pay 4G offering will not be in place until next year. According to Ms Kavanagh, nearly three-quarters of its customers already have 3G phones, while under 5% have 4G handsets. Vodafone plans to invest EUR500 million in network upgrades over five years, while O2 Ireland is looking at CAPEX of EUR200 million. O2 is looking at 2014 for a 4G launch – due to its acquisition by Hutchison Whampoa, parent company of 3 Ireland. 3 Ireland is itself looking to launch LTE in November or December.

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