in Ireland, telecomms

Is the eircom dream finally over?

The dream that once was eircom was that a 75-year-old semi-state company could be transformed into the major national broadband provider through the combination of union/worker ownership and private capital. That dream now seems to be well and truly dead. What put the nail in the coffin in the last week or so is that eircom’s cable competitor, UPC, ┬áis now offering 12 Mbps speeds as its entry-level broadband service. This means that UPC’s cheapest broadband package is faster than eircom’s most expensive.

This is bad, but it isn’t necessarily fatal. Eircom can come out of this, but it will require some big steps.

Three things need to be done.

1. Financial innovation and transformation. The era of decadent borrowing is over. Eircom’s management and shareholders need to man up to do a deal to lighten the massive debt burden. This could mean a trip to the administrator’s or examiner’s court. It will almost certainly leave the creditors as owners of eircom. However, eircom will still need new investment, and the only way to get that is through a plan to roll out an advanced technological infrastructure in a radical, low-cost way.

2. Rejuvenating the infrastructure. Slash-and-burn. Radical is the only way forward. Anything else will leave eircom trailing its cable rival UPC in terms of service and costs. The radical solution for eircom is to transition fixed-line customers to 3G/mobile, then shut down its old, decrepit copper network, street-by-street. The copper can be removed and the holes’n’poles infrastructure can be quickly repurposed for high-speed, low-maintenance fiber-optic cables. If eircom cannot raise the cash to put in the fiber itself, it can bring in a partner, or many partners, who will rent the duct space from the old eircom.

This transformation would turn a dying infrastructure into the best national fiber optic network in the world.

3. Total rethink of the marketing proposition. This new eircom needs to present itself to the market in a radically different way from before. It needs to integrate marketing with sales and support through a single technological platform. It needs to work in conjunction with other telcos, especially the big mobile brands, but also UPC, in a spirit of true partnership, rather than solely as a competitor. There needs to be a new detente with the government and the regulator.

In one sentence, eircom needs to move from being a global laggard to a global innovator and leader. If it doesn’t, it will continue its slow decline, followed by a sudden halt. Customers are migrating to 3G or UPC broadband services so rapidly now, that the eircom landline business will soon be reduced to an unviable rump.

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  1. Just to clarify chuors used to be known as cork multi channel . UPC is what NTL used to be known plus they bought chuors, so it’s all UPC.I’ve been with UPC (or as it was when I signed up, NTL) for about 8 years, 2 in one house and 6 in current house. I’ve had no problems at all. I have the basic TV pack which is price competitive, plus highest broadband they offer and quality is excellent! From closing an old account and opening a new one (before I realised you could just move the account to new address), dealing with the tech guys for both tv and internet, and customer service I have to say I’m very happy overall. The internet has only dropped a few times but issues sorted out quickly, so wasn’t without internet for too long.My folks have eircom snooze slow because they won’t upgrade the exchange you need to learn how broadband works cos for example, in the case of my parents park, all users on eircom are on the same loop together all feeding off the same internet at once, whereas with UPC the internet you pay for is your own. Think of student villages all feeding off the one connection=crap bandwith then think of one dsl line into your house=excellent bandwith as you’re the only person feeding off of it.Anyway, brother living there went demented with eircom and it’s crappy service and set up his own internet with UPC and he’s been happy ever since as getting fantastic speeds.2 things, though, you have to go Direct Debit with UPC and bills are available online unless there’s a price change and they will notify you of the change and also will issue a bill in the post (even if you pay by DD).In addition, check if you can get the signal for broadband and tv before you sign up for the contract. This happened to someone I know with a different broadband company, where the sales staff encouraged them to take up their internet only to find a crap signal. Do your research first though, I’ve been fortunate as I’m in the right area for high speed broadband and generally not very many problems (close to a city, close by to a college and student villages, all fitted with UPC and close to industrial parks). some places like in more remote areas you may not be able to get their service or the service at its best.