BT’s Irish subsidiary, Esat BT has signed a EUR100 million deal with Hutchison Whampoa-owned 3 to build and operate all elements of the cellco’s radio access network. Esat’s duties will include carrying out the radio planning, site acquisition and construction and setting up of the transmission network. BT, which is supporting its subsidiary via its network services and solutions unit BT Wholesale, said it hopes that the contract will improve recognition for its radio access network solutions and management businesses.
3 won its Irish 3G licence in August 2002, after submitting a bid the previous December. It paid EUR50.7 million for the class A concession, EUR12.7 million of which was paid up front with the rest spread over 15 years after a five year moratorium. A key aspect of the licence is its additional spectrum (2X15MHz paired and 1X5MHz unpaired), designed to give 3 enough frequency to allow MVNOs to use the network. The licence carries an obligation to cover 80% of the population by 2007. The cellco expects to launch commercially in late 2003 or early 2004, although it has scaled back plans for a full national network and now expects to install just 450 of the 1,000 planned base stations.