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O2 to begin rollout of 4G mobile network in first half of 2013

Telefonica Ireland says the new data networks it can offer, following today’s ComReg auction, will increase broadband speeds fivefold.

Image: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

THE COMPANY which operates the O2 phone network in Ireland has said it will begin rolling out its next generation, high-speed mobile broadband connections in the first half of next year.

Telefonica Ireland’s statement of intent comes after ComReg announced the results of an auction to sell off free space in the telecommunications spectrum, raising €855 million by renting off space to Ireland’s four existing operators until 2030.

Telefonica Ireland will contribute almost €125 million to the upfront payments, and almost €100 million in annual payments over the coming two decades.

The operator’s said its next-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) network would “ensure Ireland remains at the leading edge of communications, providing customers with significantly faster data speeds and much faster connections to the internet”.

It said the new connections it could offer, having secured the use of the spectrum, would be up to five times faster than the speeds currently available on its data networks.

The network said it would be investing €200 million to upgrade its network to 4G capability in the next three years.

“4G will significantly change the way consumers use their mobile devices and will transform our ability to meet customer demand for new products and services as they move to adopt smartphones, mobile modems and tablets in ever greater numbers,” said Telefonica Ireland CEO Tony Hanway.

“Our plans for 4G will ensure Ireland remains at the leading edge of communications, providing customers with significantly faster data transfer speeds and much faster connections to the internet.”

Three also welcomed the results of the auction, saying it would be able to roll out high speeds of up to 180 Mbps – enough to download a full-length MP3 in a fraction of a second – but did not indicate when it would begin rolling out those connections.

Its chief executive Robert Finnegan said Three’s network had been built to carry data, and did not have to cater to older-generation GSM handsets, so it was cheaper for the network to operate as it required a smaller share of the spectrum.

Read: Mobile operators pay €855 million in auction for new spectrum space

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Gavan Reilly

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