Let the mobile broadband battle commence!

9 Jul 2007

O2 this morning became the third mobile operator in Ireland to offer a HSDPA (highspeed downlink packet access) mobile broadband service.

The 3.6MBps service, delivered via a wireless USB modem, will initially be made available for a three month introductory price of €15 per month for O2’s post-pay mobile customer or new post-pay customers.

For all other potential users the service will be €20 per month and will come with a 10GB download usage limit. However, O2 says it will be the first operator not to charge users if they exceed the 10GB limit, which is subject to a fair usage policy.

Once the three-month promotional period ends, the price will be €30 with a voice connection and €40 per month without a voice connection.

The initial outlay expected for the new USB modem device is €69.

At the time of launch, O2 says its HSDPA network will cover 75pc of Ireland’s population.

The company said that it is already in advanced stages in the rollout of an EDGE-based GPRS network, which means that if users fail to connect to HSDPA they can still get speeds faster than dial-up.

“EDGE is an enhancement to the 2G network, in the same way that HSDPA is an enhancement to the 3G network,” explained Jude Lynch, sales director of O2 Ireland. “EDGE provides speeds four to five times faster than GPRS.”

She added that at 3.6MBps, the HSDPA service is ahead of those services used on fixed line broadband services like DSL.

A spokesman for O2 Ireland told siliconrepublic.com that the company had “soft launched” the broadband product at certain retail locations around Ireland over the weekend.

TNS mrbi research commissioned by O2 has suggested a growing digital divide between Dublin and the rest of the country.

While 70pc of those surveyed in Dublin had broadband access from home, the figures fall to 45pc in Munster, 41pc in Connacht/Ulster and 31pc in the Rest of Leinster.

By John Kennedy