This week’s interview is with Donal Hanrahan (pictured), managing director of Magnet Business.
What’s the solution to Ireland’s poor broadband penetration?
It’s really a question of demand. People are only realising what they can do with broadband. The business market is quite well educated and appreciate the importance of broadband. On the consumer side I don’t think the telecoms companies have done a good job selling it.
What is Magnet doing that’s different?
On the residential side it is selling an entertainment product, using broadband to deliver services as distinct to just selling broadband. The key is to focus on things you can do online; it’s a recognition that people don’t see the value in just broadband, they need more than that.
Where’s Ireland at in the broadband stakes?
It really depends on your definition of broadband. At a 2MB level we have a bit of work to do. The infrastructure nationally doesn’t support more than that. To keep an edge we have worked to make sure our entry-level product is uncontended so you’re not sharing your connection with loads of people. This represents quite an investment in infrastructure.
There are still too many people using dial-up and instead of falling, ISDN figures are rising. Why?
This is certainly a regressive situation because there are areas of the country where businesses can’t access broadband and their only outside data access is ISDN. I don’t see why today a business is buying ISDN as opposed to entry-level broadband. They are not being sold the right product.
What are businesses that do buy broadband using it for?
Internet and email are entry-level requirements. We are starting to see demand from businesses for higher-quality broadband. The reason is that they’re starting to use it for voice and online and hosted-type applications.
What kind of services will Magnet be offering businesses in the near term?
We’re going to move beyond the provision of basic broadband products to look at putting services on top of the network, such as voice applications, hosted PBX solutions and online backup and data storage. We’re also going to look at providing managed services such as network management for small, medium and large companies. Businesses also need their broadband pipe to be smarter for prioritising certain activities. We are trialling these services now and when we’re ready we will roll them out into the channel. Magnet is here for the long term.
By John Kennedy