Boost for Irish operators as superfast 4G exceeds UK target
IF IRISH mobile operators were worrying about the commercial appeal of '4G' (faster mobile internet) networks, they will have been buoyed by yesterday's news from the UK market.
EE, the first network to launch 4G in Britain, has reached its target of one million customers, four months ahead of schedule. The operator, jointly owned by Orange and Deutsche Telekom, has bagged the customers with the promise of much faster mobile broadband speeds.
This will be a fillip for Irish operators, which have been struggling to come up with a strong commercial reason as to why their near €1.5bn commitment (€850m in licence fees and at least €650m in network upgrades) is something to celebrate. Irish operators had been scaling back expectations as to what 4G can deliver, with most stepping up emphasis on enhanced 3G services, rather than superfast 4G.
Incidentally, The Punt hears September may prove to be a deadline too far for Irish operators to launch 4G.
Just two – Vodafone and Eircom (via Meteor) – were aiming for lift-off by month-end. While this may still happen, The Punt is not hearing the usual noises linked with pre-launches.