Irish alternative operator BT Ireland has reported revenues of EUR257 million (USD328.4 million) for the six months to 30 September 2006, up 17% from EUR220 million for the corresponding year-ago period. EBITDA rose by 17% to EUR14 million on the back of strong subscriber gains, particularly from its broadband unit. BT Ireland added roughly 13,000 new retail residential broadband users over the period to end September with 48,000 subscribers, thanks in part to the launch of an all-inclusive package deal priced at EUR45 per month. In the wake of the announcement BT Ireland outlined plans to invest EUR500 million to upgrade its all-Ireland telecoms network, part of a EUR15 billion global spend being undertaken by BT Group to develop its so-called ‘twenty-first century network’. The monies will be used to develop its infrastructure in the North and South of the Republic although the telco has not broken down the split for each side.
BT Ireland says it is committed to sorting out the problem of local loop unbundling (LLU) in the republic but its chief executive Danny McLaughlin admitted the telco would be ‘modulating’ its EUR500 million investment dependent on the outcome of ComReg’s decisions and enforcement of provisions to increase competition. McLaughlin said that continued LLU is vital and that BT Ireland needs to migrate its bitstream customers to its own broadband products rather than try to make a meagre profit by reselling eircom’s services. The operator is concerned that if the government’s proposed legislation including co-competition powers for ComReg is not passed before the next election expected in the Spring, ‘then we have a problem’.