If you ask BT chief executive Chris Clark about Ireland’s broadband woes – and believe me, he knows – he actually sounds upbeat. There are reasons to be cheerful, he says: “I don’t think we should underestimate the progress that has been made in the last few years.”
Last year, Clark signed a landmark multimillion deal to transfer BT’s consumer, small-business broadband and voice customer base to Vodafone. This deal, which involved the transfer of some €4.8m worth of assets, has given Vodafone access to BT’s 22 unbundled local exchanges around Ireland as well as access to BT’s consumer phone and broadband base of 84,000 consumers and 3,000 small businesses.
Post-Vodafone deal, BT remains a key player in the lucrative enterprise and networks business, winning major contracts with other telecom operators, Government and large businesses. The company designs, builds and manages networks for 3 Ireland, Telefónica
O2 Ireland, Vodafone, UTV and Coillte. In the past five years, BT has deployed 3 Ireland’s 3G network under the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) as part of what Clark describes as "the fastest mobile rollout in western Europe".
He is also keen to see the Republic of Ireland benefit from developments such as the 21CN network. In the UK, BT has committed to spending £1.5bn sterling on its fibre-to-the premises strategy and has begun by rolling out a 40Mbps fibre-based broadband service called BT Infinity.
By John Kennedy
Photo: BT Ireland CEO Chris Clark: Ireland has moved from poor to average in terms of broadband, now it has to decide to be great
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