But in Dublin exactly that took place and from unlikely quarters.
Robert Redeleanu, CEO UPC Romanian and UPC Hungary said parent Liberty Global was busy building out and had added half a million homes across five countries. Scale, said Redeleanu, is becoming more important. “Eastern Europe is still very fragmented and while the need to consolidate is still there, it’s less obvious.” In addition to the rollout and upgrade of broadband services, Redeleanu was also studying other markets where mobile services could be launched.
Tony Hanway, CEO, Virgin Media Ireland said the resurgence of the Irish economy and brought dividends for the operator. “Telco growth is inextricably linked to GDP performance,” he said, going on to describe how the company has successfully bid for funds from Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries that had also enabled new build. Broadband has been ‘rebranded’ as Wi-Fi as that’s how the customers in Ireland describe it and with that 75 per cent of the installed base has the latest modem capable of running the operator’s fastest speeds.
The rebranding to Virgin Media was, said Hanway, the biggest thing that has ever happened in Irish cable.
As ever attention turned to Manuel Cubero, Chief Commercial Officer, Vodafone Germany and the possibility of consolidation with Liberty Global. Unsurprisingly, he made little comment other than to point to the advantages of ever-increasing scale. “From an industry perspective it makes sense, look at China they have just 3 operators, so there is a logic to it.”
Cubero said the integration of Kabel Deutschland and Vodafone has gone better than we expected. The company continued to welcome allcomers to the platform, including Netflix, Maxdome and Sky. Whilst Sky wasn’t competitng in broadband it made sense to work with them on the distribution of the Bundesliga over Sky Sports and the company would not put in its own bid.
There were plans for the rollout of gigabit broadband in two cities in May.
Timm Degennhardt, CEO at Telecolumbus, the German operator that is currently rebranding as PŸUR, said his company was undergoing a significant amount of change following the integration of the local companies. Although relatively small any combination between Vodafone and Liberty Global brought opportunity, particularly as the result of any mitigation brought by regulators between what Degennhardt described as “two giant companies”.