Cable companies in Ireland are in talks with a new cable operator to buy out a number of smaller cable operators and offer them a combined package of services to customers, it has been claimed.
The new operator, which is believed to be considering its options, could be called VultureSip, according to the report.
The Irish Cable Association (ICA) said it had been told that the new operator would not be owned by a cable company.
Vulture Sip is a smaller cable company which offers services to consumers and small businesses.
The service includes an offer to buy customers’ existing service, it said.
“It is the ICA’s understanding that this is the type of arrangement that the government would prefer to have happen,” said the union’s acting president, Brian O’Mahony.
Mr O’Mahon said the proposal was likely to be rejected, but said the company would have to find a buyer if the government’s proposal was not approved.
It is understood that a number, or at least the majority, of the cable companies are now in discussions with Vulture, which has a long-standing relationship with the Irish Cable Board.
The board’s chairman, Michael McGrath, said it would be a good time to explore the possibility of a deal.
“We have been very clear to the Government and to all the stakeholders that if this is to be approved by the board then we need to work with Vitex to ensure that we have a good deal and a good future,” he said.
The Independent has contacted the Irish government for comment.
A deal between Vulture and the Irish cable companies could lead to a significant reduction in the number of lines being delivered by the smaller operators, Mr McGrath said.
It also could mean that more small cable companies would be able to access the Internet.
The deal is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
The ICA said it did not comment on rumours, but that it was confident the company had the necessary skills to succeed.
The union also criticised the Government’s proposed changes to the Telecommunications (Regulation) Act, which would require smaller operators to offer service to the most disadvantaged groups, such as people with disabilities.
“In a market where there is no competition and there is a lack of competition, there will be a need to invest in small, innovative companies to provide a better service to all,” Mr McGrith said.
Mr McGruth added that it would “not be in the interest of consumers” for the companies to be taken over by Vulture.
Mr McCormack said the new company would also be “in the business of making money for itself”.
“The new operator will not be providing a service that would be in competition with existing services,” he added.
The industry has seen rapid growth in recent years and there have been several new entrants to the market.
A number of existing cable operators are also considering taking over the larger companies and merging with them.
Vireio Technologies, the largest cable operator in Ireland, last month announced it would take over the smaller companies of the group in order to offer a “single point of access” for people with the most complex or challenging needs.
The company’s CEO, John Kelly, said that he believed the merger would improve the service offered to people with disability.
“The acquisition of the small operators will enable us to deliver a single point of connectivity for all of our customers,” he told RTÉ’s The Agenda.