iPhone coming to Ireland next month without Visual Voicemail

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Wireless carrier O2 said last night that it has partnered with Apple Inc. to launch the iPhone in Ireland next month.

The multi-function touch-screen handset will be available in the region beginning March 14 in an 8GB model for €399 and a 16GB iPhone for €499, O2 said during its fiscal fourth quarter conference call.

Similar to distribution in the UK, the iPhone will be made available through the carrier's retail stores as well as Carphone Warehouse stores.

Customers will be able to select between three monthly tariffs (calling plans), starting with a €45 option that includes 175 anytime minutes and 100 text messages. A €65 tariff includes 350 anytime minutes and 150 text messages, while the high end tariff offers 700 minutes and 250 text messages for €100.

All of the tariffs require an 18-month agreement and none include unlimited data or Visual Voicemail at this time. Instead, all three include just 1GB of data transfer and a 15c per minute charge for checking messages.

Ireland is just the fifth country to see an official rollout of the Apple handset and the first of 2008, joining the United States (AT&T), UK (O2), France (Orange), and Germany (T-Mobile), which launched last year.

Interestingly, word of the iPhone's arrival in the region comes just one day after eagle-eyed enthusiasts spotted references to O2 and Ireland in the latest version of the iPhone's firmware. The same firmware also included references to T-Mobile Austria.