Often dismissed as the poor relation of the Irish mobile world, Meteor has managed to become the country’s number one provider of prepay services, according to ComReg statistics. The company attracted the highest share of new prepay subscribers to its network in the first nine months of 2003.
Meteor added 52,815 new prepay subscribers to its network, which is 41pc of the total number of new prepay subscribers. Vodafone had a 40pc share while O2 had just 19pc of the share. The figures were based on official ComReg statistics for the first six months of the year and publicly released figures from Vodafone, 02 and Meteor for the third quarter.
Anticipating the upcoming ComReg quarterly report, Meteor expects to have its market share in Ireland revised upwards to 5pc, which it expects to be at the expense of O2, which is expected to drop to 39pc share while Vodafone remains unchanged.
“Our performance has been strengthening throughout the year and when one network makes significant competitive gains it obviously has to be at someone’s expense. Certainly in the last quarter it seems that O2 has buckled under the pressure,” said Meteor CEO Stewart Sherriff, “and customers have voted with their feet and made the move to Meteor.”
ComReg’s recent submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Communications indicated that in the postpaid market, where Meteor has not been active, Irish consumers pay the third highest prices in Europe.
The impact of Meteor’s competitive assault on the Vodafone and 02 duopoly has been reflected in the market where Meteor has now moved into second place ahead of O2, in terms of overall new subscriber additions for the first nine months of the year. “It’s time to stop referring to us as the third operator,” said Sherriff, “because in present-day operational terms we are now the second best performer in the market and we have our eyes firmly focussed on the top spot.”
In terms of overall new subscribers, including both postpay and prepay customers, Meteor had a 31pc market share in the first nine months of the year. O2 had 22pc while Vodafone had 47pc.
This, the company said, places Meteor as the current second placed operator in the market in terms of performance.
“It should be noted that prepay makes up 70pc of the overall market and this clearly indicates that Meteor is now the second player with the majority of the consumer market and is quite definitely making a major impact on the competitive landscape,” said Stewart Sherriff.
While Meteor has not really been active in the postpay market the operator has managed to hold its own with a 4pc share of new subscriber additions for the first nine months of the year. Vodafone holds a 68pc share with O2 well behind on 28pc.
“Until we have full coverage we will not be able to bring the same levels of competition to the postpay market,” said Sherriff, “but our excellent results in the prepay market and the fact that we have introduced low prices and forced the others to copy us and drop their prices is all the proof that is needed that ComReg should move now to mandate national roaming,” he said.
“The facts are simple. We have coverage where hundreds of thousands of prepay customers need it, and in that sector there is competition, there is a real competitive threat to the big guys and Irish consumers pay the third lowest prices in Europe,” said Sherriff.
“In the postpay sector customers feel that they need coverage in every county, even if they may never have to use it. It’s a perception issue,” he claimed.
By John Kennedy