Belfast Telegraph

Why sky's the limit for Rainbow after new deal

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland's biggest independent telecommunications company is set to increase its workforce and offering in 2010.

Business to business service, Rainbow Telecom, has been on the go since 1999 and last year made its first foray into mobiles with the purchase of Red Sky Communications.

Director Eric Carson said: "The initial signs are very encouraging - we have 5,000 customers so we are offering the mobile package to them. Initially that's where our focus will be and the intention is to employ more people to do so."

Mr Carson said they foresee boosting their 50-strong workforce to 60, with five of the new intake working on the mobile division.

It also bought a telephone systems company last year and wants to boost turnover in that division to £1m. Last year, total turnover was £8m.

The company already offers 24 Mb broadband. "Watch this space for what we do on high speed broadband. We are planning to aggressively tackle the high speed broadband market this year."

But Rainbow - which Mr Carson set up with Martin Hamill - is not tempted by the residential market.

"We are a business to business organisation so we only really handle the residential side for business customers.

"We have built our model around face to face customer service and it's not possible to do that in a residential market. It's also far too volatile and people come and go so much. There is also a very high bad debt level. Business is a more stable area."

They are intent on boosting customers. "At this moment in time, we would aim to have at least 10% growth per annum of customer base.

"At this point we have 4,500 customers in Northern Ireland, a few hundred in the Republic and the remainder in Great Britain. We are currently considering what other opportunity there is in Great Britain. Northern Ireland represents just 2% of the telecoms market. We need to aim for the other 98%."

He said another key aim is to maximise the opportunity to provide a wider service. The company has already branched out from providing just calls to its customers, to providing calls and lines.

But he is not complacent about existing customers. "We have invested highly in local account management for face to face, personalised customer management. It takes a year or two years to win a customer but a second to lose them."

Rainbow Telecom will sponsor the new category Excellence in Technology award at this year's Belfast Telegraph Business Awards. "There are synergies between ourselves and the Belfast Telegraph. We both do our best to support and promote local business and sport. It's a major event and we just wanted to be there to promote our brand with the Belfast Telegraph."