Weekend news roundup

22 Feb 2010

A quick glance at some of the technology stories breaking in the weekend papers.

Paddy Power willing to pay online taxes

The Sunday Tribune reported that Paddy Power is open to paying tax on internet betting by its Irish customers if it is levied on all bookmakers taking bets online in Ireland. CEO Patrick Kennedy said raising the rate of tax will not fix the funding gap. He said only 15pc of bets in its shops and 11pc of online bets were on Irish racing. He estimated that only €6 million a year could be raised from taxing bets on Irish racing and said no countries fund racing by taxing other sports. The company would be prepared to pay tax on all online betting, but any change must be applied to its competitors and not just those based here.

Orange/T-Mobile merger to get EU nod of approval

The Guardian reported that the merger of Orange and T-Mobile looks set to get the go-ahead from the European commission after a last-minute deal was thrashed out over the weekend to secure the future of 3, the UK’s smallest mobile-phone network. The merged business would be the UK’s largest mobile phone company, with almost 30 million customers, and Orange and T-Mobile have agreed to hand back some of the mobile spectrum it would own in order to allow this to be used by rivals to run super-fast wireless broadband services. The commission has yet to inform the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) about its decision, and the merger could still face a challenge from Vodafone and O2, which are understood to be “lukewarm” about the concessions made over spectrum. The commission’s decision is a blow to consumer groups that had been campaigning for authorities in the UK to investigate the deal.

Sprint Nextel to go for WiMax

On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Sprint Nextel Corp plans to sell a phone compatible with its next-generation wireless network starting this summer, as part of an effort to help distinguish the struggling wireless carrier from its larger rivals. The company is under the gun to roll out products and services utilising a fourth-generation, or 4G, technology known as WiMax, which is able to send data faster than current 3G networks.

Denis O’Brien set to net €150 million

The Sunday Business Post reported yesterday that telecoms tycoon Denis O’Brien is to net €510 million in cash from the sale of his Digicel Pacific (DPL) company to its larger parent, Digicel Group. An update on the financial performance of O’Brien’s Digicel Group includes details of the deal, which puts a value of $1.1 billion, including debt, on DPL. Shareholders will receive $825 million (€693 million) of this, with O’Brien getting the lion’s share. O’Brien owns 84pc of DPL, the rest being owned by third-party investors and management. It is likely that the acquisition would have been approved by Digicel bondholders, who have lent several billion dollars to the company.

Take that ye Twitter naysayers

In a spirited retort at all those who doubt the power of Twitter as a first-tier news source, Sunday Business Post columnist Adrian Weckler hit out at those inner clique of news media who have looked down on the social-networking medium. Pointing to how a tweet by Senator Dan Boyle led to the dismissal of former Defence Minister Willie O’Dea TD, Weckler hit out at the moleskin notebook brigade. “While some traditional media sources had the Lee resignation at about the same time as blogs and Twitter, most only got the story an hour or two later. And mainly through blogs or Twitter. Whether the Moleskineers and book-club radio presenters like it or not, Twitter has become a must have service for those seeking the latest news.”

By John Kennedy

Photo: Denis O’Brien, chairman of Digicel

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years