Setanta Sports poised to enter mobile phone market

Broadcaster's service plan depends on outcome of talks with 3 Ireland

Irish pay TV broadcaster Setanta Sports is planning to enter the mobile phone market in Ireland. The company is in talks with 3 Ireland about becoming a so-called mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).

This would involve Setanta piggybacking on 3’s network and using its own brand to offer services to customers.

It is understood that the two companies have been in talks on a deal for the past couple of months and that Setanta hopes to launch a mobile service by the end of this year.

This would be part of a suite of products that Setanta plans to offer, comprising TV, phone and mobile broadband.


It will include Setanta Go, an app/online player that will serve as a second screen service to existing subscribers or be sold on a standalone basis to non-subscribers. It will deliver all five Setanta and BT Sport channels as live. It would also sit alongside, a white label service that is already in existence. This could likely offer in-play betting odds to the player service.

Setanta has hired consultant Leo Hassett to advise it on its mobile plans. Mr Hassett was head of mobile business development at Eircom for three years up to 2003. He then developed a retail franchise that he sold on before filling a number of senior executive positions in Ireland and Britain with building materials group Rockwool. Mr Hassett has been working with Setanta since December.

If Setanta strikes a deal with 3, it will be entering one of the most competitive sectors in Ireland. Vodafone is the largest player in mobile while 3 and 02 are preparing to merge, having been given the green light from the European Commission. The merged company would have a 37 per cent market share.

In addition, Eircom operates two mobile brands, Meteor and eMobile, while Sky Sports and supermarket giant Tesco also offer mobile services.

3 is also reported to be close to concluding MVNO deals with cable TV operator UPC and with Carphone Warehouse. As a condition of its approval for its merger with 02, the commission has required 3 to make MVNO services available to two other companies.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times