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First MVNO hopeful throws hat into Irish ring

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Irish telecoms company MinuteBuyer is the first firm to officially confirm its intention to become a virtual mobile operator in Ireland. Its decision comes days after the EC announced its backing for Irish regulator's ComReg's plan to force Vodafone and O2 to open their networks.

MinuteBuyer wants to set up as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), offering a service that "piggybacks" on another telecom's physical network. Others are expected to follow suit: Eircom, Tele2, British Telecom, EasyMobile and T-Mobile are all interested in entering Ireland as MVNOs, according to the Sunday Times.

Dublin-based MinuteBuyer will seek meetings with Vodafone and O2 to start negotiations. "We intend to become a 'virtual operator,' offering far more competitive mobile services to our existing business customers and to the corporate market," said Brendan Moran, CEO of MinuteBuyer.

Vodafone and O2 say they will fight the new measures, which could force down the cost of mobile calls. Moran urged ComReg to set deadlines for the inevitable appeals, to avoid delays in the introduction of MVNOs.

"While MinuteBuyer welcomes the EC ruling, our corporate customers should not need to wait another 12 months for alternative options to their current mobile purchasing," he said. "We are calling on ComReg to move quickly to put in place early appeal deadlines for both Vodafone and O2 and to make early decisions on these appeals."

MinuteBuyer already operates as a fixed-line virtual operator, reselling low-priced call minutes - which are purchased from fixed-line telecoms - to business customers.

© ENN

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