UTV Internet will launch a broadband service for its Northern Ireland customers in the next few weeks.
UTV chairman John McGuckian told the company's AGM that the recent changes in wholesale prices made it possible to offer a broadband product.
Pricing will be STG27.50 monthly including VAT, according to Scott Taunton, managing director of UTV Internet. Both BT and Freeserve currently offer ADSL access at STG29.99 a month including VAT. UTV Internet will also give customers the option to rent a DSL modem for around STG5 monthly or buy it outright, Taunton said.
"We're trying to make life easier for people by keeping the joining fees low," Taunton told ElectricNews.Net.
UTV Internet CTO Martin Lyons said the company would love to be able to offer customers in the Republic the flat rate and broadband service.
"The regulatory environment does not make it easy. Wholesale lines are not down to the level where we think it is cost-effective to launch a residential service but we expect that to change," he said.
UTV Internet achieved operating profitability in the second half of 2001, well ahead of original targets, according to McGuckian.
The division reported a loss of STG0.38 million from January to June 2001 but made a profit of STG0.15 million in the following six months.
"UTV Internet continues to make good progress with a growing customer base across the island of Ireland," McGuckian said at the AGM on Friday. "Trading remains profitable and we would expect UTV Internet to make a positive contribution to the Group in the full year."
Taunton said the company had signed up more than 60,000 customers, but its core base of active users totals around 28,000 people. Around 40 percent of these customers are based in the Republic of Ireland.
The heart of UTV's Internet service was acquired by the company almost two years ago when it bought Northern Ireland's DNA Internet for STG4.25 million.
In March 2002 UTV acquired a 50 percent stake in Dublin-based Bocom, which broadcasts news and advertising via satellite to large plasma screens located in high footfall locations, for STG1 million in cash.