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How Eircom sees deal targeting illegal downloaders

Some speculate it comes as a result of the company's wider difficulties

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Eircom, Ireland's largest Internet service provider, argues its agreement to delay and then deny service to illegal downloaders is far from groundbreaking.

"We haven't conceded much of anything," says company spokesman Paul Bradley, describing it as a "compromise" to end the threat of a lawsuit.

There is speculation, however, that the concession of so much to the record industry comes as a result of Eircom's wider difficulties.

The company has had five different owners in 10 years, as well as a history of leveraged buyouts that have left the company struggling under $5.6 billion in debt.

It is currently the subject of yet another takeover bid, this time by Singapore Technologies Telemedia.

Analysts in Ireland say settling all outstanding litigation makes an organization a more attractive target.

Bradley says there there has been no measurable loss of customers movement to Ireland's other ISPs since the agreement was reached. Observers in Ireland are now watching to see if this may change when the trial phase of the arrangement begins next month.

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