Irish telecom companies are unlikely to announce mass layoffs while updating their infrastructure unlike their counterparts in the UK, according to Shena Brien, CEO of IP Telecom. The company helps businesses phase out old technology, including landlines. Brien believes the Irish market is different from the UK and has a completely different business model. She made the comments after BT announced it will lay off 55,000 people following the completion of its fibre-rollout nationwide. However, Brien said that some redundancies may occur among players in the telecoms market as skills such as laying copper wire for landlines will no longer be required.
BT has said that more than 15,000 roles will end after those employees had replaced its slower, copper-based network with more reliable fibre optics by the end of 2026. At least 10,000 fewer people would be needed for running and maintaining that more efficient network, according to a BT spokesman. IP Telecom was created in 2010 by Brien and Brian Chamberlain and has since seen the emergence of fibre and AI and the impact they have had on the industry. Telecoms carriers have all this infrastructure that’s degrading and falling apart, and it’s costing them a fortune to actually maintain it. There is a campaign to phase out landlines across Ireland with updated technology but Brien said this process is expected to be slow and therefore mass layoffs such as happened at BT are more unlikely.
Brien said carriers want to sunset their old technology and the process is set to take as long, if not longer, than the exercise completed last year to end the use of some non-geographical numbers. “We’ve just got rid of 1890 and 1850 numbers here in Ireland and it was a massive exercise and it took us in the industry probably the best part of two years to communicate that to business,” said Brien. “It’ll be another project like this. The process is starting very, very slowly.” However, Brien said that some redundancies may occur among players in the telecoms market as skills such as laying copper wire for landlines will no longer be required. “I suspect the people that BT are letting go are people who were working on old technologies,” she said. “But a lot of people can be retrained.”
Ireland’s communication regulator ComReg said in the coming years, with the widespread availability of fibre-based networks and other modern technologies, the copper network will eventually be switched off. Brien said the Covid-19 pandemic sped up the need for better telecommunications infrastructure as many businesses are thinking about how they can equip their employees should a health emergency happen again.