Sky will enter the Irish mobile market next year using the Vodafone network following a wholesale agreement between the two companies.
The European pay-TV provider will add Sky Mobile to its customer offering in 2023, a decade after it first became active in the “triple play” market by launching broadband and home phone services.
By using Vodafone’s network, Sky will join the list of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), or companies that pay to use the network of other carriers to sell mobile phone packages under their brand.
Sky Ireland chief executive JD Buckley said the announcement marked “a significant milestone” in the continued growth of Sky’s business in the Republic.
“Sky has a proven ability to launch new services at scale and we are excited about launching Sky Mobile to customers here next year,” he said.
Vodafone Ireland chief executive Anne O’Leary said Sky’s entry into the market would result in “enhanced choice” for mobile consumers and reflected Vodafone’s commitment to offering competitive wholesale access to its mobile network.
“Vodafone Ireland is delighted to have entered a long-term wholesale partnership with Sky to enable the company to provide mobile services in the Irish market using the Vodafone network,” Ms O’Leary said.
Vodafone Ireland has more than 99 per cent 4G population coverage for voice, data and text.
It is already the host network for two other MVNOs here: Clear Mobile, a Vodafone-owned brand that launched in early 2021, and An Post Mobile, previously known as Postfone, a pre-paid only offering in operation since 2010.
The largest MVNO in the Irish market is Tesco Mobile, which uses the Three network as its host and has more than 400,000 customers.
GoMo, a brand owned by Eir, has amassed more than 300,000 customers since launching in October 2019, while Virgin Media Ireland has used Three’s network since entering the mobile market in 2015. Virgin’s mobile customer tally stood at 129,000 at the end of 2021.
Once Sky’s partnership with Vodafone comes into effect, it will join Virgin, Eir and Vodafone in becoming a “quad play” company, meaning one that sells pay-TV packages, broadband, home phone and mobile services.
A report prepared for telecoms regulator ComReg last September by German consultancy WIK Consult noted a trend away from MVNOs competing to offer lower-priced calls in the Irish market.
“Rather, consumer preferences seem to be leaning more towards quality, reliability and high volume, particularly unlimited, data packages, which are areas in which MVNOs’ capacity to compete is limited, due to the price per unit wholesale models which predominate,” its report suggested.
Sky, which has been owned by US telecoms giant Comcast since 2018, did not say when in 2023 it would launch Sky Mobile in the Irish market. It already offers mobile services in the UK.
The company, which is also a broadcaster and maker of original screen content, has 23 million customers across the Republic, the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. It employs just under 1,000 people in the Republic, with more than 750 of its staff here working for its head office in Dublin.