Carphone Warehouse has confirmed to Mobile that it will soon become the next mobile operator in Ireland. Carphone Warehouse has completed an agreement with Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa to offer the Irish mobile network service. Carphone will use 3’s network as part of a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) arrangement with Hutchison Whampoa.
Hutchison Whampoa agreed to have two MVNOs on the 3 Ireland network as this will help secure EU anti-trust approval of its €850 million acquisition of O2 Ireland from Telefónica. Liberty Global's UPC brand is understood to have also agreed an MVNO deal in Ireland with Hutchison Whampoa. The company operates a number of European MVNOs using national operators. One of the two MVNOs will eventually be given the option of becoming a full network operator.
The European Commission cleared the buyout of O2 Ireland on May 28. Following the news, Ireland’s communications regulator Comreg criticised the decision saying the competition remedies accepted by the commission were “insufficient, inadequate and ineffective”.
ComReg voiced concerns that by reducing the number of mobile operators from four to three in the country, it would seriously impact consumer prices and competition in the market. While it said it respected the commission’s position as the decision-making body, it warned of “significant negative consequences for Irish consumer welfare”, which may result because of the deal.
Carphone currently offers a UK MVNO service on Vodafone’s network under the Talkmobile brand. Around 500,000 customers have signed up to the service since it launched seven years ago; this figure included customers who moved across from its previous MVNO, Fresh Mobile.
The new entrant to the Irish market will compete with rival operators Meteor, Tesco Mobile, Vodafone and 3.The retailer is believed to be looking to compete with Meteor for lower-spending customers. Carphone's Irish sales were valued at around €106 million in 2013.
"Carphone Warehouse would like to confirm that we will soon become the next mobile operator in Ireland," said the company's Irish division when contacted by Mobile.
"We will be releasing a detailed announcement shortly."