The mobile phone operator 3 has finally launched as the fourth mobile operator in Ireland. I was beginning to doubt they would, even after their advertising campaign started their website was ominously vague. But they are up there now, with the 083 prefix.
At an initial glance their price plans do seem competitive against Vodafones 3G plans. For example 3s VideoTalk 400 is €49 while Vodafones PerfectFit 400 is €69. 3's cheapest plan seems to be VideoTalk 200 for €25 while Vodafones is PerfectFit 400. Prices for text messages seem to be cheaper as well 9c on 3 against 13c on Vodafone (and 11c on O2 similar priced 2G service) Calls also seem to be cheaper, but there is so much to choose from that I'm sure all networks will argue they are the cheapest in someway or other depending on the users requirements.
Its the first time I've seed LG and NEC phones are available in Ireland (though I may have missed them) They also have 2 Motorolas and the Nokia 6680.
Nationwide 3G coverage seems a little patchy, covering towns but not countryside, for example my home town seems to be covered, but my family home is a little outside of town and in the wrong direction so may not be covered. This urban centered 3G coverage appears to be the same on Vodafone. 2G/2.5G services are available over most of the country so I should still have voice and GPRS on my (shamefully rare) visits home. Infact 3 have a national roaming agreement with Vodafone to share Vodafones 2G network.
I expect Vodafone will have some new offering ready to retaliate with, they have been the only player in the 3G market for a while so one cant really blame them if they have been holding back the sweeter deals until they saw what 3 would open with. According to O2 shops they will launch their 3G service at the end of September/beginning of October though one shop was more precise with 7th of October.
Following Eircoms purchase of Meteor this should prove to be a good day for Irish mobile phone consumers.