Irish 3G players should follow Korean lead – iReach

13 Apr 2007

Unless Irish mobile operators strike a balance between affordable content and high-class technologies 3G will fail in Ireland, analyst firm iReach has claimed.

The firm pointed to the experience of South Korea where 85pc of the population are covered by 3G technology.

IReach business research analyst Sinead Daly said South Korea is on the path to developing a knowledge-based economy for the same reasons as Ireland.

“They too are surrounded by neighbours that can manufacture goods a lot cheaper than they can. Recognising this threat, South Korea has developed a world-class telecoms infrastructure that includes highly advanced HSPDA [high-speed downlink packet access] networks to differentiate itself from those countries surrounding it.”

Daly said South Korea’s success comes from a number of factors, namely the financial investment made by the service providers to upgrade their networks. In this respect, Irish operators have started to follow the Koreans with huge investment in their infrastructure in order to expand their levels of penetration.

“Key to their success was also the approach the Korean government took to allowing competition in the market with regard to the provision of 3G licences,” said Daly. “Strict timetables were enforced as to when the networks had to be in place which imposed an obligation on network operators to develop their capabilities quickly.”

However, she claimed the most important lesson for Irish operators to take from South Korea is in terms of delivery of content, for example mobile games, music and multimedia.

“It is essential that Irish operators continue to forge deals for 3G content in order to increase the usage levels of 3G in the Irish marketplace.”

She pointed to 3, which is delivering hit programmes like The Office, Little Britain and Father Ted as well as a music store and video messaging via its network. Similarly, Vodafone offers video calling, music downloads, movie trailers and games. O2 has yet to roll out its HSPDA offering although it does have mobile phone music content available.

“Ireland’s 3G market is growing and can continue to do so if operators look to the example set by the advanced Asian market if they are to achieve a balance between high-class technological infrastructure with affordable content. This is the only way 3G will succeed,” Daly warned.

By John Kennedy