Irish 3G mobile operator 3 Ireland yesterday announced plans to launch mobile broadband internet access services based on High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology and covering 85% of the country, from the first quarter of 2007. Local online news portal siliconrepublic.com writes that the cellco is also planning to introduce a new range of services and products specifically targeting the Irish business sector. In a press statement, 3 Ireland’s parent company, Hutchison Whampoa, said the introduction of its X-Series of HSDPA-based broadband services would offer a flat-rate pricing model designed to one day replace the current norm of metered billing. 3 Ireland’s managing director Robert Finnegan said the move to flat-rate charging is significant as mirroring the way fixed line broadband access is charged will fundamentally alter people’s perception of mobile and broadband in the Irish market forever.
Finnigan said that 3’s proposed launch of X-series would offer customers features which until now have been the preserve of customers with a fixed high speed connection. These include unlimited calls from their mobile phone via VoIP provider Skype, the ability to watch their home television via their mobile using Sling, the capability of accessing their home PC remotely using Orb, as well as access to internet and messaging services from Yahoo!, Windows Live Messenger and Google. The director stopped short of disclosing the new flat-rate fees, but said that they would be announced in the new year. He went on to say that the company was bringing out HSDPA data cards which will mark its foray into the Irish business market. 3 already has 100% HSDPA coverage in the capital and by January 2007 it hopes to have upgraded its entire 3G network – which currently covers 85% of the country – with HSDPA. 3 has virtually 100% coverage of the Irish population in terms of voice services.