IN THE PAPERS
In The Papers 18 February
O2 launches Visa debit card | Google buys NAMA building
The Irish Times reports that mobile operator O2 has launched a prepaid Visa card. Users can put EUR20 to EUR350 per day onto the card and use it in ATMs and anywhere that accepts Visa payments. The cards can be topped up online, in O2 retail stores or in over 1,500 Payzone outlets. The card costs EUR4.99 and will have ongoing top-up costs of up to EUR2.99. "This first financial services product from O2 marks the start of the convergence of the mobile phone and the wallet, and firmly positions us at the forefront of this trend in Ireland," said O2 Ireland chief Stephen Shurrock.
The paper also reports that the Local Government Computer Services Board, a flagship Microsoft client in Ireland, is moving to open-source software. The public sector body, which provides shared ICT services to local government, has been a Microsoft client for 10 years and was a pioneering exponent of Microsoft's SharePoint. LGCSB assistant director Tim Willoughby said a number of factors had convinced him to make the move to OSS. "Microsoft's Software Assurance scheme was a factor. It requires an annual payment of 29 percent of the original licence cost. We can't afford it. The other reason is that we don't want our data to be stuck in old infrastructure where we have to pay somebody to get it out."
The paper also notes that Irish-owned HiberniaEvros has invested EUR1.6 million in a new division that will offer computing infrastructure over the cloud. The company said it had already gained a number of customers, including classifieds site DoneDeal.ie, and expects the new venture to create 50 jobs in the next three years.
The paper also reports that broadband provider Magnet has accused Eircom of misleading customers with its recent price increases. "The 3.1 percent average increase figure used by Eircom is an outrageous piece of spin and is being used to hide much more severe price hikes," said Mark Kellett, CEO of Magnet. "Eircom also fails to mention in its media announcement that bank holidays are now charged at peak time rates for new and non-bundle customers," he added. Ronan Lupton, chairman of telco representative body Alto, said Eircom's price increases were "unacceptable" in the current business climate. Eircom declined to respond to the comments on Thursday.
The same paper says that companies should not impose a narrow set of computing hardware and software onto employees, but instead let them choose their own device and the apps they want, according to a new PwC report. The quarterly technology forecast urges businesses to take advantage of the powerful smartphones, tablets and hand-held devices their employees already own.
The paper also says that high-speed wireless broadband provider AirSpeed Telecom will be enabling video coverage of Election 2011 for RTE live from the main political party press rooms and count centre locations throughout the country. With coverage from more than 40 count centres, RTE will be using AirSpeed's LiveLinx technology in eight of these locations and there is currently a permanent link installed in the Fianna Fail press room, used for press party conferences. LiveLinx is a joint venture between AirSpeed and Digital Space and provides a high-speed IP video service with fixed camera units that allows for multiple live feeds straight to the newsroom without the need for a technical crew to be present.
The Irish Independent reports that online training college Hibernia netted a pre-tax profit of EUR612,000 in the year to the end of January 2010, up nearly 20 percent from the previous year. Gross profits last year were close to EUR4 million, according to accounts filed with the Companies Registration Office.
The Irish Examiner says that Google has bought Montevetro, Dublin's tallest office building, for EUR99.9 million from the National Asset Management Agency. An outright sale was agreed on the property, a 15-storey building at Grand Canal Dock in Dublin, close to the company's existing facility on Barrow Street. "We are at capacity in our EMEA headquarters in Barrow Street and the additional space will allow us to relocate some teams to Montevetro and to create an even more spacious working environment for Googlers in our existing building," said John Herlihy, head of Google in Ireland. NAMA said it made a clear profit on the deal.
The paper also says that DSG Retail Ireland, the company behind Currys and PC World, made a pre-tax loss of EUR8 million last year. The loss followed a pre-tax loss of EUR9 million in 2009. Accounts just filed with the Companies Registration Office show that DSG Retail Ireland Ltd's revenues declined 10 percent from EUR166 million to EUR148 million in the year to the end of May 2010. The drop in revenues is partly explained by the closure of three stores during the year.
According to the Financial Times, UK companies have been told by ministers to raise their game in the fight against cybercrime after a government study showed industrial espionage and intellectual property theft were costing the economy STG17 billion a year. Announcing the first official UK estimate of the cost of all forms of cybercrime, Lady Neville-Jones, security minister, said business leaders needed to be much more vigilant of attacks on their IT networks. She called on businesses to build military-style "situational awareness" into their networks, to help pinpoint attacks. "There are many companies in this country that don't actually know what the normal functioning of their system looks like. They can't tell between normal and abnormal functioning," she said.
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