Eire’s O2 & Three may combine

Telefónica could sell O2 Ireland to Hutchison Whampoa

Rumours say that Telefónica might sell its O2 Ireland network to Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa. Hutchison already has an existing MNO (Mobile Network Operator) in Ireland in the shape of Three Ireland. That would mean that the number of Irish MNOs would drop from four to three. Such a deal would have to get passed both the Irish regulator (Comreg) and the EU regulators. Robert Finnegan, Three Ireland’s CEO, told the FT that if the deal went ahead, the combined operator would have an overall Irish mobile market share of around 37.5 per cent.

The are strong precedents that the regulators would be willing to approve such a deal.

For example, in the nearby UK, EU regulators allowed the merger of Orange and T-Mobile to create EE.

In that case, EE had to sell off part of its spectrum allocation which eventually went to Three UK (3UK).

There’s no suggestion of such spectrum sales by O2 Ireland yet.

Significantly, Eire’s Comreg has revealed that ARPUs [Average Revenue per User] in irleand have gdeclined from €29 a month to €28.

The temptation is to blame this on the harsh economic climate but the EU interference – by lowering roaming charges, is almost certainly to blame, too.

Eire is also a pretty saturated market with handset subscriptions having risen over the 100 per cent of the population mark.

In other words, there are plenty of Irish people wandering around with two phones not just one.

GoMo News wonders what the new Irish operator will be called?

After the disaster that was Everything Everywhere – the perceived wisdom is that the names has got to be simple – hence EE.

GoMo News prefers O5 (O2 + 3=5). We’re probably wrong because of Hutchison’s dominance it will most likely be called H2O (Hutchison + O2).

GoMo News is tickled to think of an H2O logo emblazoned on Irish rugby jerseys.

About Hans Cett

Hans Cett is an established freelance author and consultant specialising in the mobile communications industry. He also writes for Countdown2MWC - http://countdown2mwc.wordpress.com/
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