UPC aims to offer mobile service
UPC could soon set up a new Irish mobile phone service, according to sources in several telecom companies.
The broadband and television provider aims to use the network of an existing mobile operator, but will be branded and billed as a UPC service.
The company is believed to be close to a deal with 3 Ireland to launch a service here. The deal would see UPC set up what is called a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).
Other examples of such piggybacking services include Tesco Mobile, which now has almost 4pc of the Irish market.
The company revealed its intention to launch a mobile service to the Irish Independent last year. However, the firm is now closer to agreeing terms for the service with discussions being held with 3 Ireland to host the new virtual network.
Last night, the company confirmed that discussions on the matter are ongoing.
"We are in discussions with various possible providers regarding an MVNO deal," said a spokesman for the company. "We will provide further information when possible and if a deal will be reached. We remain committed to a full MVNO solution where we provide every network element ourselves. We aim to offer a pan-European solution competing with Europe's fragmented telcos."
If launched, the mobile phone service would become the eighth operator in the Irish market, including four 'full' operators and three existing 'virtual' operators. However, that number could soon fall by one, with 3 Ireland seeking permission to purchase O2 Ireland in an €850m deal.
UPC operates mobile operator services in Belgium, Germany and the UK, under the Virgin Mobile brand.
The news comes as UPC revealed a slight rise in its Irish customer base with 0.2pc more television customers (339,000) compared with a year ago.
Meanwhile, its broadband subscription rose by 10pc to 348,300 in the same period. It also now has 313,000 home phone customers, a 23pc rise on the same period last year.