The Friday Interview: Robert Dunn, UPC Ireland

1 Dec 2006

This week’s interviewee is Robert Dunn (pictured), general manager of UPC Ireland.

What kind of developments can we anticipate from UPC in the Irish market in 2007?
We’re going to launch personal video recorder (PVR) services in the first half of next year and a high-definition set-top box in the second half of next year. We will certainly begin rolling out video on demand services in 2008.

How will UPC differentiate itself against competitors in the market like BSkyB?
Ultimately expect more content, particularly more local content such as community channels. We’ve also launched new voice over IP telephony services this year and that is something we are ramping up slowly. Our aim is to build a pan-European telephony platform and aggressively enter the market for voice.

There’s a lot of talk about triple-play services. How will consumers react to large bills?
The key is for people to feel they are getting value for money and when we roll out single billing for triple-play services like TV, broadband and voice, the aim is to guarantee them 40pc less than the nearest competitor. I’m excited because I think we have a compelling opportunity here for the Irish market. It’s an opportunity to take back a lot of market share that cable had lost.

How will this be achieved?
On a practical level it is about technological innovation and that means upgrading the network, putting fibre optics deep into the network. When this is done subscribers will be able to receive up to 180 video channels and 30MB of broadband. This will be ideal for video on demand services.

What other kind of services will cable TV and broadband subscribers get?
With the PVR services, for example, users could be at work and could go to the website, enter their unique ID and select programmes they want to record and the programmes would be waiting for them when they get home.

What are your predictions for broadband in the longer term?
Our view is that by 2010 more than 80pc of homes in Europe will have broadband. In about 15 years broadband will be universal. It really is a function of price and how the services are marketed. Demand in Ireland for broadband is phenomenally strong right now.

By John Kennedy

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