Eircom acquisition may herald convergence

10 Nov 2005

SwissCom’s potential €3bn acquisition of Eircom could hasten the arrival of fixed and mobile convergence in the Irish communications market, a senior IDC executive said in Dublin this week. Yesterday, SwissCom confirmed it is in talks with Eircom.

Yesterday SwissCom stated: “Swisscom considers various investment opportunities on a regular basis. Swisscom confirms that it has entered into discussions with Eircom in relation to a possible transaction. However, there can be no certainty that an offer will in fact be made. A further announcement will be made when appropriate.”

IDC research director Lars Vestergaard told IDC’s Mobility Conference in Dublin this week that the best company to acquire an operator such as Eircom would be another telecoms operator because of the likely investment in infrastructure it would bring about.

“Eircom would be better off if it’s an operator that buys it,” he said.

Vestergaard described SwissCom as one of the most technologically innovative operators in the European marketplace and cited an award the company won at the GSM World Congress in Cannes earlier this year from the GSM Association (GSMA), the world’s most important association in the mobile communications sector.

In March SwissCom won the GSMA Award 2005 for the best mobile business application for its Mobile Unlimited application, which had been available exclusively in Switzerland but has since been licensed to mobile operators worldwide under the name of Unlimited Connection.

“This essentially ties together traditional fixed line with Wi-Fi, 3G and GPRS for a fixed price,” Vestergaard explained. Mobile Unlimited provides users on the move with high-speed, interruption-free access to the internet and company data at all times. It effectively selects the fastest-available technology – GPRS, UMTS or wireless local area network – and through a seamless handover technology the connection remains intact when switching from one transmission technology to the other.

“This is the future and that’s what businesses and consumers should be asking operators to deliver,” Vestergaard said.

By John Kennedy