Competition in the mobile phone market here is about to intensify, with Virgin Media's announcement that it is to launch its mobile service on Monday.

The announcement was made at an event in Dublin, attended by Virgin boss Richard Branson, to mark the rebranding of UPC to Virgin Media from October 5.

Under the new mobile service, an unlimited plan will be made available to existing UPC/Virgin Media customers, which will offer infinite data, calls and texts.

The offering will be free for three months to existing phone, broadband and TV customers, and will cost €25 a month after that.

Non-Virgin Media customers will be able to avail of a range of price plans starting at €20 a month, but full details will not be released until Monday's launch.

Sources say there will be an unlimited calls, texts and data offering for these new customers too, but the pricing of that has not yet been disclosed.

There will be no prepay offering, but sources say post-pay contracts will be short.

The launch of Virgin Media's mobile service brings to two the number of so-called quad-play providers here - telecom operators who offer landline, broadband, mobile and TV services to customers.

The newly rebranded Eir - the former Eircom - already offers all four services and Vodafone is also expected to rollout a TV package in the future.

Virgin Media has built its mobile service using the Three Ireland network.

As part of the approval of Three's acquisition of O2, it was ordered by the European Commission to offer capacity on its network to two Mobile Virtual Network Operators, or MVNOs.

A number of weeks ago the Dixons Carphone Group's MVNO service, ID Mobile, was launched.

The growing number of mobile operators in the market here is expected to lead to more competitive pricing for customers, experts say.

All UPC's existing services will be rebranded as part of the move to the Virgin Media name.

UPC's parent, Liberty Global, acquired the UK based Virgin Media business for $23.3 billion in 2013.

As part of the deal, Liberty Global can continue to use the Virgin name under licence.

Earlier this year, Liberty also purchased TV3 for €87m.

Together Virgin Media and Liberty Global have 27 million customers across 14 countries.


Together Virgin Media and Liberty Global have 27 million customers across 14 countries.