GAA tackles Eircom with lower call prices

26 May 2004

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has revealed that it plans to offer its own fixed line phone services to GAA members through an alliance with Access Telecom. The sports organisation says it will offer residential and business customers calls and line rental prices that undercut those offered by Eircom by 20pc.

The GAA’s new telecoms service, entitled Gaelic Telecom, says that users of the service will benefit from savings of 20pc on line rental; 20pc on local, national and mobile call charges and 40pc on international call charges. According to Gaelic Telecom, a member of the GAA could save approximately €150 a year off the price of the average phone bill.

Gaelic Telecom reckons that with over 1,800 clubs, with an average of 100 members per club, GAA members and supporters could save €25m whilst generating an extra €15m for the coffers of local clubs and county teams.

The deal brokered between Access Telecom (formerly ITL) and the GAA was approved by the GAA Central Council last month.

Access, which was founded by Sean Bolger, was sold to GTS in 1998 and provides fixed line telecom services to some 2,500 companies including Pierse Construction and Budget Travel. GTS invested some €27m in Access and is developing a switch facility at Barrow Street in Dublin. Access makes an annual turnover of €10m.

Bolger has been appointed chairman of the new telecoms company Gaelic Telecom, which plans to grow staff from 40 people to 70 people in the short to medium term. Commenting on the new service, Bolger said: “”Competition is good for consumers, businesses and the economy. The introduction of wholesale line rental, enabling competitors to provide a full service on a single bill creates the environment in which real competition will develop. Reflecting other European markets we can expect a 20pc market shift to competitors. Gaelic Telecom with its competitive service offering and through its association with the GAA is strongly positioned to take a significant share of this opportunity.”

GAA members wishing to use the new service can hold on to their existing telephone number and the transfer to Gaelic Telecom would take a few days.

The new service was launched this morning by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Dermot Ahern TD, who said: “The deregulation of the fixed line telecom industry has led to increased competition and choice for consumers. By offering customers lower prices and the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing development of the GAA at club and county level, Gaelic Telecom is providing a positive service to the community as a whole.”

By John Kennedy