The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has withdrawn the offer of Ireland’s fourth 3G licence from Smart Telecom, which it awarded to the company last November.
“The company was notified last night by ComReg that it believes that the company has failed to meet certain conditions of its original offer and accordingly that it no longer intends to award the licence to Smart,” Smart Telecom said in a company statement.
Smart said it “strongly refutes the grounds on which ComReg purports to take this action”. It said it “received legal advice throughout the process which supports this view”.
Smart Telecom was awarded the fourth and final Irish 3G mobile licence in November 2005 and made its initial payment of €56.75m for the licence on 15 December.
It has also negotiated a €200m network rollout contract with major equipment manufacturers and arranged a €100m performance bond with the banks to underpin the project.
Elsewhere, the telco said it was making good progress in the broadband market and was succeeding with plans to install its equipment in Eircom’s local exchanges throughout Ireland.
The group said it had gained 4,188 new residential broadband customers in January and that it expects this rate to increase as more exchanges are unbundled.
Smart CEO Oisin Fanning said he believes Smart will regain the fourth 3G mobile licence.
He added: “The recruitment of more than 8,000 broadband and fixed-line customers in January in the face of the ongoing failure and frustrating action of the regulator and the incumbent, Eircom, respectively is evidence itself of the progress we are making.”
By John Kennedy