Ireland - Telecoms, IP Networks, Digital Media and Forecasts
Proposed merger of key mobile players promises overhaul of the mobile market
Ireland’s telecom market has undergone a long period in which the incumbent eircom was mismanaged and under-invested in its infrastructure. Concurrently, the poor economic conditions have dented consumer spend in telecom services. The government’s indebtedness also obliged it to rein in investment in infrastructure. As a result, telecom sector revenue fell 4.5% in the year to September 2013, affecting the ability of telcos to invest across the board. However, some renewed momentum among operators suggests that some recovery in the sector should be expected into 2014 and 2015.
For some years, the market for converged media and applications in Ireland was hampered by poor broadband infrastructure. The position has become brighter more recently, since the main cable operator UPC Ireland has upgraded its network and eircom has begun to deliver in its fibre infrastructure. Relatively low penetration has partly been due to high wholesale costs, lack of competition, high retail prices, and limited coverage of fast services in many non-urban areas. Broadband growth is now largely in the cable and mobile sectors, though in coming years it is expected that a larger proportion of subscribers to DSL services will be migrated to fibre networks where these become available.
Ireland’s mobile market has undergone considerable changes in recent years. The market enjoys effective competition between four main players as well as a small number of MVNOs, which provide additional market competition. Mobile broadband, on the back of expanding HSPA and LTE networks, has become popular among consumers since the introduction of flat-rate data plans. The regulator has also set aside UHF spectrum for use by mobile TV services, while spectrum in several bands has been freed up for 4G use. The acquisition by Hutchison of O2 Ireland, subject to regulatory scrutiny, would create a triopoly of players with roughly equal market share.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year