Little competition and a duopoly of sorts between two operators has resulted in Irish consumers missing out on innovative mobile phone services that consumers across Europe have been enjoying, the chief executive of 3 Ireland and UK Bob Fuller said today at the launch of the company’s 3G offerings to the Irish marketplace.
“Competition is the thing that has been lacking in the Irish marketplace until now. That low range of competition has left Irish people querying as to why they are being charged the rates they are being charged,” Fuller told a press conference this afternoon.
“Irish consumers are missing out on the services being enjoyed in other European countries,” he said.
3, which is owned by Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, launched its service to the Irish marketplace today with 99.5pc population coverage for its voice, text and GPRS services (as a result of a roaming deal with Vodafone) and 60pc population coverage in terms of 3G data services.
The company launched to the Irish marketplace with five phones from four phone manufacturers — Nokia, Motorola, NEC and LG — with three price points of €25 a month, €45 a month and €60 a month. The company has brokered distribution deals with the 3G network of stores and the Carphone Warehouse network of stores, covering some 50 shops nationwide. Fuller added there is scope for deals to be signed yet with independent retailers as well as the option to launch its own retail network at some time in the future. The company said it will also be reserving some of its best deals for its web store.
Handsets available from today include the NEC 338, the Motorola V975, the LG U8138, the Motorola E1000 and the Nokia 6680.
Fuller said the aim is to keep its tariff system simple and unambiguous. For example the €25 monthly tariff includes 200 voice minutes or 100 voice minutes and 100 text messages or 300 text messages. The company is also running an offer until the end of 2005 whereby customers can make video calls for the same price as voice calls and send video messages for the same price as picture messages.
Phone customers who sign up for 3’s service will get unlimited access to a range of mobile video and internet content including highlights from all the next season’s matches from the Barclays Premiership, Champions League and UEFA Cup competitions as well as video and text news bulletins and comedy. Also includes is GAA news and scores, weather and coming soon RTÉ video news.
In terms of service, the company will have a 24/7 call centre. If a handset develops a fault the company pledges to provide a replacement handset within three hours in most cases. A 14-day money-back guarantee is available if customers are unhappy with the service. If a handset is lost, stolen or damaged in the first 12 months, 3 will provide a replacement handset and SIM card for €50. The company is also providing a 24-month warranty on all handsets, beyond the traditional 12-month manufacturer’s warranty.
“We are coming to the Irish marketplace with established products, processes and experience of over four years in the 3G space,” said Fuller. “We aim to bring a much more complete service to the Irish marketplace in terms of 3G.”
By John Kennedy