O2 Ireland today announced that it has exceeded its regulatory requirements for the introduction of its 3G service and has commenced limited services among selected business and individual customers. O2's 3G network coverage extends to more than 35% of the population and covers major urban centres such as Dublin city and county and the cities of Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford and Kilkenny. O2 will continue expanding its 3G network across the country.
Some 25 customers have been equipped with Nokia 6650 handsets and are using O2's 3G network for their voice and data communications. In addition to voice services, initial applications will include high-speed internet access at speeds significantly faster than dial-up, ISDN or GPRS connections, as well as video messaging and other multimedia services.
Danuta Gray, chief executive officer, O2 Ireland, said: "We are very happy to announce the introduction of our 3G service and that a limited number of customers are already using the network. Our initial focus will be on the main cities around the Republic of Ireland and on trialling appealing new multimedia services and applications. Our intention is to introduce the service on a more widespread basis later in 2004 once the issue of handset availability is overcome."
O2 Ireland hopes to bring mass market 3G services to Ireland in the second part of 2004 and into 2005. However, the company has emphasised that making 3G a mass market service will depend on the availability of an adequate supply of good quality handsets, competitively priced and with sufficient battery life.
While 3G technology will bring further speed and capacity, O2 Ireland pointed out that mobile users are already benefiting from high speed data services such as email on the move, web access and media messaging over its existing 2.5G network which offers nationwide coverage and international roaming.
Danuta Gray concluded: "We are pleased with the progress we have made in building an extensive 3G network and making it available to a limited number of customers. However, the success of 3G will be dependent on the availability of good quality handsets at competitive prices and on the growing market demand for compelling data services. We intend to be an industry leader in providing 3G services in Ireland and are committed to a long term investment strategy to ensure its success as a quality, customer friendly service".
With a limited commercial 3G network now available, O2 Ireland becomes the only mobile operator in the Irish market offering a wide range of wireless technologies to suit different types of customers and situations including GPRS (2.5G), Wi-Fi and now, 3G.
Today's announcement follows the start of friendly user 3G trials by O2 Germany last month.