Smart can now reach 550,000 lines with broadband

19 Nov 2007

After putting its troubles of a year ago behind it, Smart Telecom has embarked on a major customer acquisition drive starting off with a free 12-month 3Mbps broadband promotion.

Smart Telecom technical director Ronan Kelly told that the company is aiming to leverage the 550,000 lines it can now reach from its 37 exchanges around the country.

“The idea is to position ourselves as a next-generation provider of triple-play services. The technology has evolved to push further from the exchanges than before and we will be employing the MPEG 4 standard to provide internet protocol television [IPTV] services in a way not seen before in the Irish market,” said Kelly.

The chief operations officer of Smart, Pio Murtagh added: “We are the only player in the Irish market that can provide uncontended broadband services across the board. Until now we haven’t really been promoting this factor, but that’s about to change.”

It emerged last night that the company will be offering 12 months of free 3Mbps uncontended broadband as part of a package, including voice services from €10 per month excluding line rental. The offer will be available until 31 December.

New and existing customers of Smart will also be able to avail of the offer on upgraded packages of up to 7Mbps.

Murtagh revealed that the company will be unveiling its IPTV services in early 2008. In recent months Smart said it was making a €2.5m investment in a new state-of-the-art MPEG 4 IPTV headend and middleware solution with French provider, Thomson.

The new IPTV platform will enable Smart to deliver its new digital services of more than 100 TV and radio channels to an addressable 550,000 homes across Ireland.

As part of a sneak preview, Murtagh demonstrated voice switch integration on the electronic programme guide on the company’s IPTV service.

The service will include programme stagger features such as time shifting that can allow viewers to watch previous days’ viewing.

And, because the house phone will be integrated with the IPTV service, when someone is watching TV and a call comes in a notification appears on the TV screen, so that the live programme can be paused and resumed when the call ends.

It will include other functions such as child protection features and a ‘zap list’ that allows viewers to bookmark upcoming programmes to be recorded or highlighted.

In tandem with the triple-play service, Murtagh said the company was also investing in growing its SME and corporate customer base.

Murtagh said it was time to bring real competition back into Ireland’s broadband market. “Local loop unbundling has become the preferred platform in Europe for opening up telecoms markets to competition. Ireland, sadly, is the exception.”

By John Kennedy