eircom preps mobile broadband as rumours grow - Mobile World Live

eircom preps mobile broadband as rumours grow

22 OCT 2009

Former Irish state-owned fixed-line operator eircom has made a move into the mobile broadband market as it continues to be linked to takeover bids. Using its mobile division Meteor’s network (which it acquired in November 2005), eircom will initially launch services in Dublin, Cork city, Dundalk, Drogheda, Bray, Naas and Newbridge, with expansion planned to over half the population by the end of the year. Theoretical HSPA peak download speeds of up to 7.2Mb/s will be offered for EUR19.99 a month (10GB download allowance). The company has dismissed suggestions the launch will undermine Meteor’s own 3G offering ‘Broadband to Go’; “Nobody’s out to eat each other’s lunch,” an eircom spokesman told the Sunday Business Post. “This is a very fast growing market, and our customers want a combination of fixed and mobile services.” eircom will compete with the market’s largest mobile operator Vodafone, second-placed O2 and 3. eircom’s new mobile plans follow disappointment last year when it lost out on a government contract awarded to 3 to roll-out mobile broadband to the country’s rural areas (see related NSN story, right).

Meanwhile, UK private-equity firm Permira is interested in bidding for eircom, The Sunday Times newspaper reported, without citing any sources. eircom, which has a EUR3.8 billion debt pile, is fighting an AUD176 million (US$143 million) takeover bid from its former Australian-based management. The Sunday Times reported that JP Morgan was advising Permira. Irish media have previously reported that Singapore Technologies Telemedia had offered around EUR100 million for Babcock & Brown Capital, which has a majority stake in eircom and the Israeli Golden Pages. Babcock & Brown took over eircom in 2006. Arcapita Bank BSC, CVC Capital Partners and Irish businessman Sean Melly are also potential bidders for the company, according to other reports.

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