Sean Bolger’s broadband firm Imagine has introduced a 2Mbps broadband product for businesses priced at €19.99 aimed at making broadband cost effective for SMEs that have so far been unable to get affordable broadband. The company will also be deploying the service in January as part of an alliance with ISME.
The service, introduced by Imagine’s business division Access, comes in the wake of a report by the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland (CCI), which revealed some 30pc of SMEs that attempted an upgrade of their internet access to broadband failed mainly due to a lack of availability of the pertinent service in their area.
Imagine claims that 70pc of SMEs around the country have so far been unable to get affordable broadband and are still relying on dial-up.
The company burst on to the Irish broadband scene in July with a 1Mbps €9.99 broadband offering for consumers. Bolger is one of Ireland’s best-known telecoms entrepreneurs, dabbling in the world of fixed-line telecoms and the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) space. By the time he entered the mobile market in 1997 he was already a self-made millionaire having sold his company, International Telecommunications, to the Global Telesystems Group for IR£78m. In 2001, he bought back his old company from GTS and re-christened it Access Telecom. Access Telecom currently provides niche telecoms services to organisations such as the Irish Farmers Association and the GAA.
Imagine is Bolger’s consumer brand and in July he acknowledged plans to launch as well as broadband, MVNO and voice over internet protocol some time in the near future. The company earlier this year raised €12.5m in funding, valuing the company at around €50m.
Access already provides the ISME Phone discounted scheme for ISME members and will be making the 2Mb offering available to ISME members in January.
“Cost management is a huge factor for businesses, particularly SMES,” explained Mark Fielding, CEO of ISME. “An improved cost base feeds into our national competitiveness and we have been an advocate of value seeking for some time. With broadband a business necessity, we are delighted that finally others in Ireland are starting to get serious on broadband. With affordable prices and better speeds the ISME Phone scheme is an example of what committed business partners can do to overcome hurdles placed in their way.”
According to Brian O’Donohoe, managing director of Imagine, Ireland’s national competitiveness is being hindered by the slow penetration of broadband.
O’Donohoe said: “Ireland needs more than soundbites to break the logjam in the broadband debate and the Communications Minister and the regulatory regime must act with decisiveness and clarity to improve Ireland’s position with regard to broadband. Failure to do so will send us back to a future like the dark days of the Seventies and Eighties when Ireland was strangled by poorer infrastructure than our competitive peers. We cannot allow that to happen.”
By John Kennedy