3 IRELAND has announced faster mobile broadband, with the launch of fourth generation (4G) services.
The services, to go live on January 27, will see 3 customers upgraded to 4G speeds of up to 25 megabits-per-second (Mbs) for six months, after which they will be required to pay a €5 per month supplement to retain 4G services.
The operator, which is currently attempting to complete the purchase of O2 Ireland from Telefonica for €700m, said that the service would initially be limited to pockets of city locations, with coverage confined to 40pc of Dublin and Cork and 60pc of Limerick, Galway and Waterford. There are no specific coverage pledges for rural 4G coverage, although the operator said that it would engage in "total population coverage" throughout 2014.
The operator is required to cover 70pc of the population using its 4G spectrum, although it is not required to offer faster 4G speeds to rural mobile users under the terms of its licence.
3, which is owned by Hutchison Whampoa, is the third Irish operator to offer 4G services. Meteor and Vodafone both launched the next-generation services before Christmas. O2 Ireland has delayed its 4G launch until after a potential acquisition by 3 Ireland.
Cumulatively, Irish operators have committed €850m in fees for 4G licences.
Broadband campaigners had hoped that 4G networks might fill a digital gap between urban and rural locations.
The Government is currently seeking ways to fulfil its commitment of rolling out fibre-speed broadband countrywide by the end of this year.