A price war among Irish mobile networks is now in full effect after Vodafone launched a separate, cut-price mobile operator today.
Clear Mobile is to offer all calls, texts and 'unlimited' data for €12.99 per month without any contract. This is less than half the price of Vodafone's ordinary monthly tariffs for such features.
The move means ordinary mobile customers can now get all calls, texts and data for under €15 per month on each of the three major mobile networks, the first time this has happened.
Mobile call rates have fallen rapidly in recent years, from an average of around €40 to under €20.
An analysis of operators' mainstream plans compared to their budget ones show that customers who are still paying over €30 for monthly plans are losing out by at least €100 per year.
The Vodafone move is also a direct response to recent discount operator introductions from Eir and Three.
Eir's cut-price GoMo operator, which also charges €12.99 per month for calls, texts and 120GB of data without a contract, snatched over 150,000 customers in its first year, an event that saw Vodafone and Three lose around 1pc of their Irish market share.
Three, Ireland's second largest network, responded with a revamped cut-price deal through its discount brand 48, which currently offers all calls, texts and 100GB of data for €8 per month without a contract.
The Vodafone move could put further pressure on rivals such as Tesco Mobile and Virgin Mobile, which charge from €20 per month, to reduce their pricing.
There is one catch to Clear Mobile that may limit its appeal to key youth markets.
Vodafone says it will limit the new service's speed to 5Mbs, effectively ruling out activities such as Netflix or Disney+ without the likelihood of buffering or freezing.
The new discount operator's speed limit, which is a fraction of that offered on a normal 4G service, may reserve it for older people who simply want to use Google, email and a range of lighter activities.
The speed cap is to stop Vodafone customers leaving more expensive services, such as Vodafone X, which costs €20 per month and offers maximum speeds of 10Mbs.
Both GoMo and 48 have speeds up to 100Mbs on the 4G networks of their parent companies. An Post Mobile, which is the only other Irish operator to use Vodafone's network, offers speeds of up to 60Mbs for €15 per month.
As with other discount Irish operators, Clear Mobile will have its own website and customer service.
It will not offer subsidised phones or 'upgrades' and has a €12.99 'joining fee' in addition to a first month's payment.
"For Vodafone, in the context of Covid-19, it felt like the right time to provide more choice for consumers in this space," said a spokesperson.
"It's a simplified sim-only offering that suits the requirements of customers who want a paired back, low-cost option."
Aideen Chambers, Vodafone's head of consumer strategic products, has been appointed as Clear Mobile's general manager.