New Carphone Warehouse network linked to 3 Ireland
THE COUNTRY'S biggest mobile phone retail chain, Carphone Warehouse, has formally announced that it is to launch a mobile phone network service in Ireland.
A spokesman for the company, which has 91 stores in Ireland, declined to say when the network would launch or what range of services it would offer.
However, it is understood that the new service will use the network of 3 Ireland, which recently received regulatory approval to acquire O2 Ireland in a €780m deal if it agreed to help set up two new 'virtual' mobile operators here.
Carphone Warehouse becomes the second company to confirm that it will launch a new mobile operator in Ireland, following an announcement by cable television and broadband operator UPC that it would soon launch an Irish mobile network.
Both Carphone Warehouse and UPC will be entitled to each purchase 15pc of 3 Ireland's 4G spectrum, under the terms of the 3-O2 acquisition deal. Neither is likely to do so, however, with UPC ruling out the acquisition of wireless bandwidth in this way.
At present, 'virtual' operators make up under 10pc of the Irish market. Tesco Mobile, which uses O2's network, has 4.6pc of the market, followed by Lyca, which has 2.5pc of the market.
The latest industry figures from telecoms regulator Comreg show that Irish mobile phone bills are coming down, with operators' average revenue per user (Arpu) falling to an historic low of €26 per user.
This is despite a move away from low-cost prepaid bills to postpaid, contract-based bills. Carphone Warehouse is likely to focus on prepaid customers, which yield an average of €16 per month per customer here.
Revenue from activities such as SMS texting continues to fall, with Comreg reporting a slump of 25pc here in the last year.