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BT Ireland is looking to woo SME customers away from Eircom with the launch of new all-in-one telecoms packages.

The firm said on Thursday it was aiming to "shake up" the indigenous telecoms market by re-launching its Business Enterprise division in a bid to win further market share in the increasingly important SME sector.

The division is headed up by managing director Anne O'Leary, who was formerly BT Ireland's director of major business, and has recruited 50 new employees over the past six months as part of a new growth strategy.

To coincide with the re-launch of its Business Enterprise division, BT Ireland announced a new inclusive communications package known as the BT Business One Plan. This offers broadband, line rental, and a bundle of landline and mobile calls to Ireland and Britain from €79.99 a month (excluding VAT).

BT's new package has been launched on the same day that thousands of Smart Telecom customers are due to be cut off unless they have found a new telecoms provider.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner earlier this week, the Consumer Association of Ireland's chief executive, Dermott Jewell, warned Smart's customers to shop around for the best deals from Ireland's 19 home phone companies, rather than simply opting to return to the country's biggest telecoms operator Eircom.

According to a study of over 550 businesses in Ireland conducted by Millward-Brown IMS on behalf of ComReg in May and June, over 40 per cent of business customers have switched telecoms service provider in the past, with almost 20 per cent switching in the past 12 months. However, almost half of those who previously switched fixed-line supplier later went back to their original provider.

"Our research shows that SMEs are concerned about their growing communications costs, especially calls from landlines to mobiles, which can make up as much as 70 per cent of their phone bill," said O'Leary at BT.

Two separate new packages are available to customers, both of which have a number of different options within them.

Under the 1Mb broadband plan, customers receive 200 minutes of landline calls to Irish and UK mobile numbers; 1,000 minutes of local, national and British landline calls; plus line rental, for €79.99 per month. For €129.99, subscribers can get a further 300 mobile minutes and 1000 landline minutes, while opting for the €234.99 per month option means customers get broadband, line rental, 1,000 landline to mobile minutes and 3,000 landline to landline minutes.

Under the 3Mb broadband plan SMEs can get 200 minutes of landline calls to Irish and UK mobile numbers; 1,000 landline to local, national and British landline minutes, and line rental, for €94.99. For €144.99 subscribers can get a further 300 mobile minutes and 1,000 landline minutes. Opting for the €234.99 per month option means customers get broadband, line rental, 1,000 landline to mobile minutes and 3,000 landline to landline minutes.

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheal Martin welcomed the launch of the package saying that it was positive news for Irish SMEs whose focus is on controlling costs while increasing productivity and efficiency.

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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