3 launches Irish pre-pay service

17 May 2006

Irish mobile operator Hutchison 3G Ireland (3) entered the pre-pay market yesterday with the launch of its ‘3Pay’ service. 3 first introduced post-paid services in July 2005 and now plans to wrest subscribers from its rivals in the pre-paid sector, which accounts for three-quarters of the Irish market.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, H3G has been looking to replicate the success of its operations in the UK by offering 3G tariffs at heavily discounted prices, alongside numerous exclusive video content deals. Its cheapest price plan costs EUR25 a month and is bundled with a choice of either 200 voice minutes, or 100 minutes and 100 text messages. At the top end, it offers a EUR60 monthly tariff including 600 minutes, which it claims gives a saving of more than EUR450 a year when compared with similar bundles on offer from Vodafone. H3G offered five handsets at launch, the cheapest being the NEC 338, which costs EUR19 subject to the buyer agreeing to a one-year, EUR60 a month price plan. Handsets by Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and LG are also available. The cellco introduced MNP in September 2005 and is hoping that the prospect of keeping a mobile number will lure customers from its rivals’ networks to take up its low cost services. In March 2006 it signed a deal with Microsoft to make the latter’s MSN Messenger and Hotmail applications available to its customers. 3 is also planning to offer access to the new Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Mail services later in 2006.