UK businesses can expect a fall in the cost of voice and data connections to Europe following the acquisition of Unisource Carrier Services (UCS) by Energis.
Energis is planning a range of pan European services, initially targeted at UK customers, but eventually at businesses across Europe, following yesterday's £60 million acquisition of the Dutch consortium.
UCS is a carriers' carrier that operates a pan European ATM network, with licences in 12 countries, national interconnect agreements in seven countries and points of presence in 11 major western European countries and the US.
Energis plans to spend £50 million over the next few months improving its network and developing services for corporates as well as carriers.
"Initially we'll continue to focus on UK customers' requirements. In the short to medium term we will start to offer services to European corporates, particularly data services," said Richard Thornton, commercial controller at Energis.
Services planned include an ATM service for corporates and the creation of a Web hosting farm in Europe, similar to the one Energis operates through Planet Online, the ISP it acquired last year.
Good news for UK businesses is that some international routes will become cheaper, according to Thornton.
"We're not as competitive as we might be on some international routes, this will allow us services at a service level and very good prices," he promised. "Prices will fall on some routes - to western Europe principally."
UCS, like many emerging carriers, is loss making. In the six months ended 30 June, 1999, it reported a pre tax loss of £8 million on revenue of £27 million. Turning UCS into a profitable business is going to be challenging for Energis, according to analyst James Bennett at CIT Research.
"The problem is it is a loss making business and is very different to the existing business. Trying to translate that is going to be an interesting managerial challenge," he said.
KPN, Telia and Swisscom, the shareholders of UCS's parent company Unisource, today announced plans to sell all the components of the Unisource group. The sale of UCS is the first part of this plan.
Other components of the group are French national operator Siris, Unisource Italia, Unisource Iberia and a majority stake in German mobile provider D-Plus. Unisource also owns 100 per cent of AUCS Communications Services, formerly a joint venture with AT&T.
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