Vodafone is near to completing the purchase of Eircell, the mobile phone business of Irish telecoms incumbent Eircom.An Eircom spokeswoman said: "We hope negotiations will be concluded in the next couple of weeks." She confirmed the issue of 3G licences was one of the sticking points of negotiations. The Irish telecoms regulator is due to publish the regulatory framework for issuing the licences this week. Vodafone is thought to be seeking assurances that Eircom will not be able to bid for a licence if the Eircell takeover goes ahead. Eircom's fixed-line business is also the subject of takeover speculation in the form of a bid from Denis O'Brien's e-island consortium. O'Brien is the former chairman of Esat, Eircell's only rival in the Irish mobile phone market.