UPC’s network upgrade to reach nine figures

13 Sep 2006

AMSTERDAM: A network upgrade valued at hundreds of millions of euros is now under way by the new owners of NTL’s Irish network and Chorus to pave the way for triple-play service combining HD (high-definition) TV, voice telephony and broadband, siliconrepublic.com has learned.

In its focus on what it terms “new wave” services, UPC launched its first triple-play services to the Irish market in July.

UPC Ireland spokesperson AnnaMaria Barry told siliconrepublic.com: “UPC Ireland launched the first phase of triple play to residents in Adamstown, Lucan, Co Dublin in July. UPC will continue to rollout its Digital Cable Telephony as part of its triple play services across its NTL and Chorus national networks.

“The service will be rolled out to Galway and Waterford from quarter four, 2006. The deployment of digital telephony is an integral part of UPC’s strategy to provide enhanced triple play services to our customers,” she said.

It is estimated that over US$50m will be invested in the upgrade in Ireland this year. According to Q1 2006 figures, some US$9.4m was invested in the former NTL Ireland network alone.

While no capital expenditure figures were included in the most recent second quarter figures, it was revealed that UPC now has over 850,100 customer relationships, of which some 630,000 are classed “revenue-generating units”, up 6,100 in the quarter.

At a press conference in Amsterdam yesterday, Manuel Kohnstamm, managing director of public policy and corporate communications at UPC, said: “While there is room for growth in terms of broadband in Ireland, we see great potential in Ireland. It has a very educated customer base.

“We will be investing hundreds of millions of euros in the coming years to increase broadband in Ireland and make as it as ubiquitous as possible,” Kohnstamm said.

In June, UPC revealed plans to launch a triple-play service consisting of digital TV, broadband internet and telephony with the first phase scheduled for the new residential development at Adamstown in Dublin. Prior to that it emerged that an additional 7,000 homes in Cork are now ready to receive broadband from UPC Broadband subsidiary Chorus.

In 2005, UPC parent company Liberty Global completed its €325m acquisition of NTL Ireland through its acquisition of MS Irish Cable Holdings BV. The company acquired Irish cable firm Chorus in 2004 for €55m.

UPC has been investing in what it terms “next-generation networks” across all of its assets in Europe, the US and Asia.

By John Kennedy