Irish telco inspires global pub goers to get talking


19 May 2005

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Young, up and coming voice over Wi-Fi telecoms operator Talktelecom has revealed it has signed a major €2m deal with Irish-run, but UK-based, entertainment firm Inspired Broadcast Networks.

Inspired Broadcast Networks, which includes on its management team former senior directors at defunct e-business firm Ebeon Norman Crowley and Donal McCarthy, has emerged as one of the UK’s leading providers of networked out-of-home entertainment systems to the pub industry and is the exclusive provider of all digital entertainment to LeisureLink, the largest manager of coin operated entertainment in Europe.

Crowley is Co-CEO of Inspired Broadcast Networks which he founded in 2002. Inspired, which is based in the UK, is the largest provider of network entertainment terminals in the world. It manages 23,000 networked machines in five countries and provides terminals to the gaming, entertainment and retail industries with clients such as Coca-Cola, Paddy Power and some of the biggest pub and bar groups in the world. Norman is also a founder and director of The Cloud, which is the world’s largest wireless local area network operator.

Talktelecom’s contract will allow low-cost international call cards to be sold through the Inspired ‘itbox’, a coin-operated, in-pub entertainment vending machine. In future, pub goers in the UK who want to call overseas can look forward to chatting with friends on distant continents for as little as the cost of a local mobile call.

Talktelecom is headed up by CEO Jonathan Mills, who was co-founder of Trinity Group, which was sold to a management team in 1999. In 2000, he co-founded Prodigy, an Irish distributor of Microsoft’s certification programme. He then became director of The Hatchery, a business innovation unit at the Smurfit Business School in University College Dublin where he worked for three years before founding Talktelecom.

“Talktelecom and Inspired Broadcast Networks have created an entirely new distribution network for international call cards. Inspired are rolling out itboxes in Australia, Italy, Germany and Ireland over the next 12 months and we look forward to launching voice products in each of these territories,” said Crowley

There are currently 7,000 itboxes installed in pubs throughout the UK and a further 6,000 networked terminals in retail locations and licensed betting offices. Users select the value of the card they require and the terminal prints vouchers in denominations ranging from £1 sterling to £20 sterling. Deployment of this new function is expected to be completed by mid 2006.

“Talktelecom is a niche supplier and therefore must innovate to create a space for itself in the marketplace. We hope to achieve this by introducing products such as VoIP over Wi-Fi and now call cards from digital terminals,” commented Anne Fox, director of marketing, Talktelecom.

“It has been a challenge to integrate the systems in the timescales demanded but we are delighted with our progress to date,” said Fox.

By John Kennedy