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Eircom swoops on last 3G licence

Irish incumbent Eircom, is, according to local reports, to receive the Ireland’s last remaining UMTS or 3G mobile licence.

Robert Haulbrook, CEO of Eircom’s mobile arm, Meteor, told the Irish Independent Thursday that the former monopoly is in the final stages of a business plan that aims to reduce the cost of rollout by partnering other operators on the network. In effect, Meteor will be giving access to the high-speed mobile network to its competitors.

Haulbrook told the Independent that he expects the plan to be hatched within a month and that the sharing initiative could see Meteor sharing with Vodafone, O2 or 3 Ireland “to bring these services to rural Ireland”.

According to Haulbrook, sharing the costs with partners will reduce Meteor’s costs by 25 per cent to Eur300m ($386.3m)

Earlier this year, Ireland’s communications watchdog, ComReg, stripped beleaguered carrier Smart of the licence. Smart was cut off by Eircom for failing to pay an outstanding bill in October leaving 40,000 customers without service.

It was reported at the time that Eircom refused a request from ComReg to give Smart customers a suitable period of notice before disconnecting the firm’s wholesale service at 5pm the same day.

Eircom bought Meteor for Eur420m in 2005 and now commands 16 per cent of the Irish mobile market, an increase of 6 per cent since it bought the firm.

Eircom did not respond to calls.

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