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Vodaphone Accepts Irish 3G License

by Jason Gorringe,, London

11 September 2002

When the Irish Government offered 3G licenses earlier this year there were just three applicants - Hutchison Whampoa, Vodafone and BT Group's mmO2 - for the four licences. Only Hutchison received an 'A' License, requiring a faster roll-out, by 2004, and costing between 50m and 100m euros. The other two applicants received 'B' Licenses. License holders are required to provide coverage to 80% of the population; the mobile penetration rate in Ireland is around 75%.

Vodaphone hesitated about accepting its license, and ducked the first payment deadline in August; but has now decided to participate, paying EUR44.5 million to the Irish government on Monday as it accepted a 'B' licence after a one-month delay.

"We think it was the right thing to do for our employees, our shareholders and above all our customers," said Paul Donovan, chief executive officer. He said that the company's delay in taking up the license was based on a need to check the actual value of the licence. "It's not often that you have to make an EUR1 billion decision," he said, "It would have been irresponsible of us to make such a decision without re-thinking our bid."

Mr Donovan denied that the company had been spiffed not to receive an 'A' license, saying that its concerns included regulation of the mobile sector in Ireland, as well as plans for fixed wireless broadband roll out, and network infrastructure issues.

"As one of the largest companies in Ireland, you have a special responsibility," Donovan added. He said that Vodafone's decision to take the license would serve to encourage further high-tech investment in years to come.

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