By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN – The battle for Ireland’s third mobile phone licence is heating up despite some skepticism about the viability of a new operator in such a small market.
Meteor, an American-led consortium, and the British Orange company, are bidding for the 15-year licence, which is expected to be
awarded next month.
Meteor is 60 percent owned by Western Wireless, with Irish company RF Communications holding 30 percent and a Seattle consultancy, the Walter Group, having the remaining 10 percent.
It plans to launch its service within nine months of the licence being awarded and have its network finished by 2001 and available to everyone in the country.
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It says it will spend at least _200 million and create 600 jobs.
Orange, which operates in Britain and Northern Ireland, is promising seamless all-Ireland coverage and a cheap service to the UK because of its network there.
John Stanton, chairman and CEO of Western Wireless, said Orange had only a 14 percent share of the UK market and, as an independent, would link up with all of the providers there.
“I believe our prices would be as low or lower than Orange could offer,” he said.
Orange is planning coverage on a single frequency while Mobile plans to use two.