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Telecoms boss marks 50 years since starting as lowly apprentice


Proud: Eric Carson

Proud: Eric Carson

Proud: Eric Carson

The head of telecoms firm Rainbow Communications is marking half a century in the sector after starting out as an apprentice engineer in 1965.

Eric Carson said his first pay packet was four pounds and 16 shillings a week when he embarked on a telecoms career with Telephone Rentals.

His firm now employs over 100 people and counts 40% of Northern Ireland's 200 biggest companies among his clientele. In the year ending March 2014, the firm had pre-tax profits of £1.1m on turnover of £9.8m.

Mr Carson said telecoms had changed beyond recognition in the last 50 years. "We have moved on a long way from the Dictograph toggle switch handset, which was heavy and clumsy."

He added: "I have seen huge change and am proud to have been part of an industry which has evolved to such an extent."

Mr Carson stayed with his first employer for three decades, reaching the top role of general manager in 1983.

Five years later the company was taken over by Mercury Communications, one of the first challenger firms in the market.

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Mr Carson then left to form TSI (Ireland), which aimed its services at business customers.

"It was one of the first times that business customers had a choice, so it was a very significant moment for us and local businesses," Mr Carson said.

In tandem with his work at TSI, he was also head of mobile network Orange for eight years.

In 1997, he and former Telephone Rentals colleague Martin Hamill rebranded TSI to Rainbow Telecom. He said he was proud of its growth - which last year enabled it to buy UTV Connect from UTV Media plc, a "watershed" for Rainbow.