eircom has announced it has become the first operator in Ireland to launch a 4G LTE network.

The service, which is available to Meteor and eMobile customers, is available to 1.2 million users in Dublin, Carlow and Athlone.

Customers in Cork, Galway and Limerick will get access to the new network "over the next few weeks", eircom said.

Thirty percent of the population is covered at launch. By the end of December, an estimated 43 percent of Ireland's population will have access to 4G LTE services.

There will be no price premium for the service, which is available as part of both bundled and standalone offerings starting at €49. Users are being offered access to free unlimited 4G data until March next year.

Customers can choose from 19 handsets at launch, while 4G MiFi devices, dongles and other mobile broadband devices are also available.

Users can expect to enjoy peak speeds of up to 25Mbps, while in technical trials the operator says it has managed to clock up speeds of more than 60Mbps.

eircom chief executive Herb Hribar said 4G technology would transform the mobile user experience for customers in Ireland. "Our vision is to provide seamless access to high speed broadband across Ireland using both fixed and mobile technologies," he said.

The operator has pledged to invest €330 million in its 4G network over the next five years.

"We have fast tracked our network investment to ensure that we are the first provider to offer customers this significantly improved mobile broadband experience, underlying our commitment to the country to provide top-class telecommunications infrastructure and our commitment to customers to provide a quality service that offers real value," added Hribar.

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