NTL trials triple-play services for Irish market


12 May 2005

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The Irish division of NTL is already trialing new triple-play technologies in the Irish marketplace such as digital voice and Wi-Fi services.

European cable operator UGC agreed in recent days to buy the division for €329m from financier Morgan Stanley depending on regulatory approval.

In its most recent financial results for the first quarter this week, NTL Ireland revealed that some 108,000 homes are marketable for broadband services, out of which some 10,000 have already signed up for services. In recent weeks the company revealed, following a deal with ESB Telecom, it will be extending its broadband services to Galway and Waterford.

Also in recent weeks, the company revealed a 100pc increase in all three of its main broadband packages. Under the enhancement, services that were previously 300Kbps are now 1Mbps for €25 a month. As well as this services that were 750Kbps will be expanded to 2Mbps for €35 a month and services that were originally 1.5Mbps will be doubled to 3Mbps for €45 per month.

Last week, it was reported UGC is planning to invest €200m in upgrading NTL and the Chorus cable networks in Ireland if its proposed acquisition of NTL Ireland get regulatory approval from the Competition Authority. Informed sources said the bulk of this investment would go into paving the way for triple play – television, broadband and telephony – services that would enable UGC to compete head-on with Eircom.

Speaking with siliconrepublic.com yesterday, NTL Ireland’s sales and marketing manage Mark Mohan said the company is currently trialling a wireless router solution for its broadband customers that would enable users to download broadband through their cable and surf the internet anywhere in the house.

“We currently have 20 users trialling this at the moment and it is likely that very soon we will rollout a service that will include a wireless router and a PC card. Ultimately we believe this will be a hit for homes with one or two computers or for people who work from home using a laptop.”

Mohan also revealed NTL is also planning to conduct trials of a new digital voice product in the Irish market with a view to launching a product either later this year or early next year. “We have some 100,000 customers of our digital television service and ultimately our goal would be to roll out a voice over internet protocol solution on top of this service.

“We are proceeding cautiously until we are satisfied that the digital voice service works perfectly. One of the greatest mistakes in the cable industry is that of companies trying everything together. We prefer to do things on a phased basis until the products are just right.

“I can confirm that we are trialling digital voice this year, but can’t say for sure if it will actually be launched this year. But ultimately triple play is where the cable industry’s future will lie in the longer term,” Mohan said.

By John Kennedy