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UPC Ireland grows broadband customers by 20%

And invests almost €1bn in upgrading its network

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UPC Ireland, the parent company of NTL Ireland and Chorus, has brought nearly 8,000 new broadband customers into its fold in the third quarter of 2006.

The firm's broadband customer figures stood at 48,200 as of 30 September - a sequential jump of 20 per cent. The number of homes currently enabled for broadband rose 23,100 to 282,400 for the quarter, and the company's total subscriber base increased slightly to 595,100 as of the end of September.

"Our broadband growth rate was 20 per cent in the past quarter, and that rate of growth accelerated even more in October," said Robert Dunn, UPC Ireland's chief executive officer. "We're really punching above our weight when it comes to broadband."

UPC Ireland is currently in the middle of upgrading its network as it bids to take advantage of what Dunn believes is a broadband market with plenty of opportunity.

"We want to upgrade as fast as we can and reap the benefits of the growing opportunities in the Irish broadband market," Dunn said. "We've been quite low key this year as we've been working at getting as many of our homes upgraded as possible."

All of this upgrading work doesn't come cheap, however, yet UPC Ireland's parent company Liberty Global seems happy to invest in Ireland, as the subscriber and financial growth in the country has exceeded expectations to date, said Dunn. He estimated the amount invested by Liberty Global shareholders in UPC Ireland's upgrade work to 2008 will come in at between €800m and €1bn.

As well as broadband, UPC Ireland is also concentrating its efforts on accelerating its voice service launch; it currently has voice-enabled 24,200 homes, although to date take-up has been relatively slow with just 300 voice subscribers by the end of September.

This figure should grow significantly over coming months as the company concentrates on an "aggressive" roll-out of its triple play services, according to Dunn. He reckons the company's triple play product, which includes a voice element, has gone down reasonably well in new developments such as Adamstown in Lucan, County Dublin. Dunn was quick to point out though that UPC Ireland is not confining its triple play offering to new housing developments.

UPC Ireland's subscriber figures were outlined in its parent company's financial results, which were released on Thursday. Liberty Global recorded year-on-year revenue growth of 47 per cent at $1.62bn, while net earnings jumped from a loss of $128m for the year ago quarter to profits of $445m for the latest quarter.

UPC Ireland's figures were combined with Liberty Global's operations in Belgium, and while Dunn was unable to give a country breakdown for Ireland, he did say that UPC Ireland's revenues were likely to exceed €200m for the full year 2006.

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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