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TGT targets Eircom with hybrid phone

Three-pronged attack

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Cork-based Trans Global Technologies is launching an assault on the telecoms market with a combined landline, broadband, and mobile phone package.

The company revealed its Phoenix M1 unit on Monday, comprising a wireless base unit/recharger and mobile camera phone with MP3, FM radio, and internet capabilities.

The final model will be 4G, with a larger screen than the prototype capable of displaying downloadable TV. The phone connects via satellite, regular GSM, and Wi-Fi networks for, what is claimed, total coverage.

TGT managing director Gary Keefe told ElectricNews.Net he expects to launch the M1 package early in 2007, and aims to attract eight per cent of Eircom's landline customers in the first year.

"We aim to cut the umbilical cord between Eircom and broadband customers. People pay around €400 per year to Eircom for the price of being able to make a call or connection on one of those days," Keefe said. At one point Keefe said Eircom and TGT were in discussions for a joint launch, until "it became clear that they would probably buy it and bury it", added Keefe.

TGT's hybrid phone system will be based on satellite rather than fixed-line technologies - attractive in areas where broadband has not yet been rolled-out. Two different phone numbers on each SIM can be used in Ireland or abroad without roaming costs. The recharger includes a Wi-Fi base station allowing a home computer to wirelessly access the internet - and there is no line rental.

BT offers a similar package in Britain called Bluephone, but Keefe dismissed this because subscribers must pay landline and GSM charges. He said TGT would initially test its technology in Ireland, then go to Britain and take on BT in the potentially lucrative 65m-strong market.

A price for the service has not been fixed but the company is looking at two-year customer contracts costing around €10 per month. Two phones and base units will be "free" for customers who pay a €4 monthly insurance fee.

Keefe said customers should expect "a lot of bang for their buck" and, depending on current negotiations, TGT may bulk discount or even scrap some call charges. The firm is currently in negotiation with European satellite companies and Irish sales distributors.

TGT employs 10 people in Ireland and retains five outsourced specialists. The firm is looking for larger Irish offices and an extra 25 to 30 people; and possibly another 50 if call centre functions are not outsourced. The company also has a relationship with 73 engineers based in a Chinese factory.

Brooklyn-born Keefe said TGT packages would be differentiated on quality, price, and "goodies" such as bundled international calling cards, no roaming charges, and new SIM technology.

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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