BELL LABS FUTURE X DAYS, DUBLIN: Geoff Shakespeare, MD of technology evolution and development for Irish operator Eircom, warned that as the industry moves towards integrated fixed, mobile and content packages, there is confusion between the terms convergence and bundling – both of which have different value propositions.
“Bunding is a discount mechanism to acquire customers and hopefully upsell them something you can make some more money on,” he said yesterday.
“You’re going to see us moving from simple bundles of existing services, to IP-based services which will be delivered over various IP fixed and mobile networks, such as VoWiFi, VoLTE and VoIP,” he noted.
“When we talk about convergence, we mean three things: service convergence, so customers can experience the same services irrespective of which access technology is in use; care convergence – we have six customer care channels ranging from online channels to actually talking to somebody; and network convergence, the capability to seamlessly connect you to services and move between and among our various networks, allowing us to deliver the experience customers want, at the most effective cost point for us,” the executive said.
Eircom has had a somewhat troubled history, with the company not that long ago involved in a significant financial upheaval. “We exited with a strategy built on significant investment, and for the first time in a long while you’ve seen us with a new set of products and services to launch, hubbed around the massive network investment we’ve made,” Shakespeare said.
This has included spend on mobile, with the company being the first in Ireland to launch 4G services. It also has a network partnership in place with 3 Ireland, which has enabled it to bolster its nationwide coverage.
“Within six months we will not be dependent on roaming on anybody else’s network. That’s important for us from a cost-base point of view, because a huge part of the future for network operators like ourselves revolves around controlling our costs,” he said.
But he was also clear that in general, mobile will not be the panacea for extending coverage into rural Ireland.
“Wireless for sure isn’t the most cost effective way of getting a solution, because there isn’t enough spectrum to actually deliver without adding new base stations, many of them in the most picturesque tourist locations in the country. The future of broadband in rural Ireland is fibre-based, not wireless based,” he said.