O2 sees no gain for Vodafone in early launch

1 May 2003

Danuta Gray, CEO of O2 in Ireland, says her company is in no way disadvantaged by today’s launch of Vodafone’s 3G network. Speaking this morning at the Digital Media Conference in Dublin she stressed that mobile networks were about services that met people’s needs rather than infrastructure.

“It’s not about the technology and I’m sure Vodafone would agree that it’s very early days,” she said. “There is still some way to go when it comes to opening up services that people can use.”

Gray wouldn’t comment on a specific launch date for O2’s 3G network other than to say that it would be before the end of the year. “Both Vodafone and O2 applied for licences and both of us have to meet our obligations,” she said, referring to Vodafone’s ambitious launch timetable.

On the wider issue of Hutchison Whampoa entering the market as the third recipient of a licence, she was unconvinced by its strategy of basing its launch around specific video services.

“Exclusive deals won’t last forever,” she said about Hutchison’s sole rights to mobile content featuring Premiership goals. “Eventually they [the Premiership] will want to win as many customers as possible.”

The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) chairperson Etain Doyle was at the same conference, though she neglected to mention the Vodafone launch of 3G, possibly out of deference to the fact that she was speaking at an event sponsored by O2. ComReg did, however, issue a statement shortly afterwards where she expressed her delight with the Vodafone launch.

“We are in the first wave of countries in Europe to launch. This sends out a good message to the rest of the world as to our mobile savvy, infrastructure readiness and the attractiveness of the market for launching innovative technologies,” she said.

By Ian Campbell