Meteor (mobile network)

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Meteor Mobile Communications
Type Private
Industry Mobile telecommunications
Founded 1998
Headquarters Dublin, Ireland
Key people Larry Smith (CEO)
Products Mobile phone network, mobile phone services & related goods
Revenue €388 million (June 2007)
Employees ~800
Parent eircom Group plc
Website www.meteor.ie

Meteor Mobile Communications Limited, a part of eircom, is a GSM and UMTS mobile telecommunications company in Ireland. They operate a GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS(HSPA+)and LTE cellular communications network under licence from the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), and were the third entrant in the market, after Vodafone Ireland and O2 Ireland. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Irish telecoms network eircom, having been purchased for €420m in 2005. Meteor is the only Irish owned mobile operator in Ireland.[1]

Meteor issue new numbers with the prefix code 085. Since the introduction of full mobile number portability in Ireland, access codes have become less relevant as mobile telephone users may now retain their mobile telephone numbers when moving between mobile network operators. As a result Meteor customers can now have numbers starting with the codes 083, 085, 086, 087, or 089.

As of September 2008, Meteor has over 1 million customers, or 20% of the market.[2]

History[edit]

Award of licence[edit]

Logo used by the Meteor Consortium in bidding for the third GSM license in 1998/99

In 1998, the then Director of Telecommunications Regulation held a competition to award the third mobile telecommunications licence. Two companies submitted bids for the licence, Orange, then controlled by Hutchinson Whampoa, and Meteor Mobile Communications (consisting at that point of Western Wireless, RF Communications Limited, and TWG Ireland LLC). On 19 June 1998 it was announced that Meteor had been ranked first in the competition. However, Orange took legal action against the Director to prevent the licence being awarded. This legal action ultimately failed and on 29 June 2000 Meteor were finally issued with the third mobile telecommunications licence.

Launch[edit]

Launched on 22 February 2001, Meteor slowly picked up a low (under 10%) share of the Irish market. However, they became profitable and have since picked up much of the lucrative pre-paid market among teenagers, due to their low SMS rates and ongoing promotions such as free Meteor-to-Meteor text messages.

In 2004, Western Wireless International bought out the remaining minority shareholders in the consortium, and it became a wholly owned subsidiary of that company.[citation needed]

Acquisition by eircom[edit]

Briefly used Meteor logo variant (2005–2007)

In early 2005 several Irish newspapers reported that Western Wireless had been approached with a view to selling Meteor. On 9 July 2005 it was reported by The Irish Times that there had been three bidders for Meteor: eircom, Smart Telecom, and a consortium led by Denis O'Brien. It was considered that the probability of eircom winning, was looking increasingly unlikely due to their heavy debt of approximately €1.9 billion. It seemed unlikely they could afford it, should the price have topped €400 million. However, on 14 July 2005, RTÉ News reported on their business website[3] that Denis O'Brien had withdrawn from bidding, and that it was understood that eircom was the top bidder at €410m. On 21 July it was announced that Smart Telecom had also withdrawn, leaving eircom as the sole bidder. On 25 July eircom announced that it had agreed to purchase the company for €420m. On 18 November 2005 the Competition Authority approved, subject to conditions (primarily, that separate accounts continue to be published for Meteor). The purchase was completed on 23 November 2005.

Rapid growth[edit]

In the latest report from eircom,[when?] Meteor has gained an 18.9% share of the mobile market in Ireland, with a customer base of over 962,000 of which over 100,000 (12%) are post paid subscribers under the Meteor BillPay brand. The company's subscriber base has since increased to over one million as of September 2008. Meteor has accounted for 66% of the overall growth of the Irish mobile market in the year to September 2006.[4] The company is now working closely with Eircom in upgrading its billing systems and deploying EDGE and 3G technology on its network. With the recent developments in eircom's acceptance of the fourth 3G licence from ComReg, Meteor is now obliged to have 33% of the population covered with commercial roll out of 3G services in October 2007. Meteor have also recently signed a deal with T-Mobile UK which will see T-Mobile UK contract customers being offered a flat rate £0.25 for calls made while roaming on the Meteor network in Ireland. On 21 September 2006 Meteor have also announced the abolition of charges to receive calls while in the UK, by signing a deal with T-Mobile UK.[citation needed]

Appointment of examiner[edit]

On March 29, 2012, a number of companies within the eircom group, including Meteor petitioned the Irish High Court for the appointment of an examiner.[5][6]

Products & Services[edit]

Meteor initially started out as a value-driven mobile service offering customers basic mobile voice telephony and text-based SMS services to mostly Pay and Go customers.

Today the company offers mobile services, such as MMS, GPRS, EDGE and 3G through their Pay as You Go and Bill Pay brands. In 2009 Meteor launched Bill Pay Lite. It offers short contracts and low monthly fees.

In February 2009 Meteor launched Broadband To Go, its mobile broadband offering. The service offers internet at HSDPA speeds and is available to Bill Pay and Pay as You Go customers. Currently there are 3 different products on bill pay, with download allowances of 5GB, 10GB and 15GB. The Pay as you go service offers 7.5GB.

Meteor Mobile Internet is the company's mobile internet based services, offering access to the mobile internet, realtones, full track music downloads and other content available for download to existing customers.

Meteor Business is the company's division focusing on business customers. They offer services such as Mobile Email using Visto technology,[7] Microsoft Windows Mobile Email and other products.

4G - LTE[edit]

Meteor (along with its sister company, eMobile), provide 4G. Currently, 4G is only available in Dublin, Carlow, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Athlone.

eMobile (MVNO)[edit]

As part of their mobile strategy eircom and Meteor have also launched eMobile aimed at the older residential & business market.[citation needed] This is to be complementary to the Meteor brand (mainly used by younger residential wireless customers). eMobile is a mobile virtual network operator MVNO which uses the Meteor Network for its services to residential & business customers, to complement the residential and business mobile services offered by Meteor.[8]

Network[edit]

Meteor previously had a national roaming agreement with O2 Ireland which meant that, only on the western-most areas of Ireland (where Meteor is still rolling out coverage), a Meteor customer could use O2 Ireland's network at no extra charge. This deal expired in February 2007. The current situation allows Meteor customers access to the Vodafone Ireland network on the western-seabord of Ireland.

Like all other Irish operators, Meteor now hold a UMTS licence. They have been able to offer nationwide 3G services since 2007, but the Meteor 3G network is available to 33% of the Irish population (this includes the four cities of Dublin, Cork, limerick, Galway and other regional centres) with very limited geographic coverage, around 15% as of 2013.

They also offer GPRS (2.5G) and EDGE (2.75G) services. Their parent eircom won a bid for the final 3G licence, when their parent, eircom accepted this, because, Smart Mobile Ltd. was unable to pay for the license. Meteor continue to add EDGE capabilities to their existing 2G network. In order to comply with the terms of licence, Meteor launched stage one (10% 3G population coverage area) from their UMTS/HSDPA Network on the end of October 2007, with the second phase having gone live to customers at the end of September 2008.

Meteors network is also 4G ready, and company bosses have said that the 4G network will go live before Christmas of 2013, being the first to offer a 4G service.[9][10] This 4g network has launched, making it the first in Ireland. It launched on the 26 September 2013.During the launch meteor announced that they will offer unlimited data until March 2014. Vodafone will follow meteor launching a 4g network in mid October, then it will most likely be Three launching in November or December and finally o2 Ireland launching in 2014

The legal transfer of licence for UMTS services from Meteor's parent, eircom, was officially authorised on 26 June 2008 taking effect the following day.[11]

Meteor Ireland Music Awards[edit]

Meteor sponsor Ireland's national music awards each year, and they have hence become known as The Meteors.

Sponsorship[edit]

Meteor sponsored RTÉ One's travel show No Frontiers[12] and the second season of TV3's The Apprentice.[13] They have since removed their sponsorship of The Apprentice, while RTÉ are currently in the process of replacing No Frontiers with a new holiday show.[14]

Censorship[edit]

On January 30, 2012, it came to light in the paper broadsheet.ie that meteor opted to censor their network despite this being in breach of Irish law and there being no legal requirement to do so.[15]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Footnotes[edit]