The mobile phone sector in Ireland has contributed approximately €2.1bn to Ireland’s gross domestic product (GDP) as of March 2004, the chief executive of Vodafone Ireland Teresa Elder said yesterday. Elder added that the sector directly and indirectly is responsible for the creation of 35,000 jobs in the Irish economy as well as more than €1bn in tax revenues.
Speaking at yesterday’s CEO forum organised by the Commission of Communications, Elder said Vodafone is investing on average between €3m and €4m a week in its infrastructure and that the company has an overall investment plan of €6bn over the next three years.
Elder said Vodafone’s 3G network now covers 65pc of Ireland’s population and that industry and the Government should factor this capability into the objective of having 500,000 broadband subscribers by 2007.
She told senior industry executives: “When we look at the wider future of telecoms we need to look at the significance of what 3G investment will bring. As we know the future will be increasingly converged. But what does that mean? Is it voice, video and data? Fixed line to mobile? It really is all the above and determiner of that is the customers.
“The lines between fixed and mobile are getting blurred as customers don’t really care whether they are on fixed or mobile so long as they get the services they want,” Elder explained.
“All operators are going to be using internet protocol (IP)-based networks to deliver services, backed by investment in IP multimedia subsystem and high-speed circuit-switched data — an infrastructure that will sweep away the current model of each technology having its own access network. Vodafone will also be first to offer high- speed downlink-packet access. Operators will use these to deliver all types of access. Legacy packet switched services will offer agnostic access with seamless connectivity — giving users the optimum choice of radio communications.
“You will be seeing us as a mobile operator offering broadband via 3G at higher speeds. Mobile devices via Wi-Fi — we are already doing this with Bitbuzz and BT — we are at the forefront of this market with our wireless office products,” Elder said, adding that she has noted a growing trend of 3G mobile phone users plugging their handsets into their laptops to get broadband on the move.
By John Kennedy
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