The Esat Digifone consortium is owned 40% by Esat Holdings Limited, 40% by Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor, and 20% by Irish businessman Dermot Desmond.

The consortium was set up and chaired by Irish businessman Denis O'Brien. The licence cost £15 million.

They scored a major coup when a deal with the Department of Justice some months ago allowed them to piggy back on Garda communications masts. That should give the new company immediate coverage of 80% in areas of population.

Speaking ahead of the launch Minister for Communication Alan Dukes confirmed that the government is to announce a competition for a third multi-million-pound mobile phone licence adding further competition to the market. 

I think it's going to bring mobile telephony into the grasp of the masses.

Chair of the Esat consortium Denis O'Brien speaks to RTÉ News about the current competition from Eircell and the potential future competition from a third licence. 

Tommy McCabe from IBEC believes that a third mobile phone operator in Ireland would be good for the market. 

This RTÉ News report was broadcast on 20 March 1997. The reporter is Peter Cluskey.