Eircom to quadruple its network of Wi-Fi hotspots

1 Mar 2011

Incumbent operator Eircom, which is in talks with lenders about its financial headaches, is pressing ahead with plans to quadruple its Wi-Fi footprint across Ireland and plans to grow the network from 1,000 to 4,000 hotspots by 2013.

The company, which warned earlier today that it risks breaking financial covenants and is in talks about further equity injections, says it is motivated by the growth in smartphone and tablet usage to come up with a Wi-Fi wireless broadband footprint.

The 4,000 hotspots will be in place by 2013 and will be positioned in many of the main populated areas of the country. The spokesman explained the 4,000 hotspots will be connected to Eircom’s backhaul network, as well as its next-generation broadband network.

The spokesman said that functionality will be introduced before the end of the summer and that any Eircom broadband, eMobile or Meteor customer will be automatically recognised by the network and will be logged in.

“The concept is we’ll be offering these hotspots to small businesses at no cost to them so they can increase footfall and generate business,” the spokesman told Siliconrepublic.com.

Earlier today, Eircom’s eMobile business launched new price plans to provide unlimited calls and texts for €49 a month.

Financial woes

In a trading statement today, Eircom also said it would discuss the possibility of further injections of equity with shareholders.

Currently, the firm hold €3.75bn net debt and has already been downgraded by certain credit rating agencies.

Eircom said its trading environment remains challenging and revenues for its second quarter were down 6pc to €438m.

“Revenue losses have been partially offset by operational cost reductions, but it is vital that Eircom remains single-mindedly focused on its three-year transformation programme to reshape its cost base, to modernise and to generate new streams of growth,” said chief executive Paul Donovan.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years