Interconnect row brews between 3 and Vodafone

2 Jun 2005

A new war of words has emerged in the turbulent world that is Irish mobile with new entrant 3 alleging that Vodafone continues to refuse to agree to a timescale for the interconnection of SMS and multimedia messaging service (MMS), nothwithstanding its regulatory obligations to do so.

The company was reacting to media reports yesterday in which it was claimed that Vodafone had agreed to an “interconnection time frame”.

3, which is owned by Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison-Whampoa and already active in the UK and Italy, says it has been requesting interconnection services from Vodafone in the Irish market since December last year but has had no success to date.

3 says it has provided stiff competition for Vodafone in other markets in Europe, in particular Italy and the UK, and this has helped to increase value for the consumer. A statement from the company yesterday claimed this additional competition “has no doubt made it harder for Vodafone to maintain its profits and high-retail prices as Vodafone’s CEO recently confirmed”.

The statement referred to a comment by Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin at Vodafone’s recent annual results, acknowledging 3’s competitive threat. Sarin said: “Hutchison 3G has had an impact in Europe. In my personal view they are here to stay and we do view them as long- term competition.”

On its present difficulties in securing interconnection for SMS and MMS, a 3 local spokesman stated: “3 is seeking to enter the market so that it can bring the benefits of new technology and better value to Irish consumers – 3 thinks Irish consumers are entitled to that.”

By John Kennedy