Eric Carson holding vintage and modern telephones


Eric Carson is celebrating a major milestone this month ‘dialling up’ 50 years in business.

Starting work in 1965 for local company Telephone Rentals as an apprentice engineer, his first pay packet was a modest four pounds and 16 shillings a week.  Today, Eric Carson is a director of Rainbow Communications, Northern Ireland’s largest independent business telecoms company which currently employs over 100 staff in Northern Ireland and services over 40% of the provinces Top 200 companies.

“The telecoms industry has transformed beyond all recognition over the last 50 years.  We have moved on a long way from the Dictograph toggle switch handset which was heavy and clumsy to the minimalist swipe screen handsets we have today which you can comfortably hold in the palm of your hand.  I have seen huge change and am proud to have been part of an industry which has evolved to such an extent.  From my own perspective it is pleasing to see that despite all the change, we have been able to keep one step ahead and build a business that is looking forward with real excitement to the next 50 years,” Eric said.

Carson spent over 30 years with Telephone Rentals progressing through the company to chief engineer before being appointed the company’s general manager in 1983 the first person from an engineering background to achieve this prominence.

In 1988 the company was taken over by Mercury Communications, one of the first organisation’s to challenge British Telecom’s monopoly of the market. Eric left in 1995 to form TSI (Ireland), a company which installed the Smart Box, and was one of the very first organisations to offer all business customers a choice, providing cut-price calls by working with a variety of network suppliers.

“Initially we were able to offer lower prices by using the Smart Box system and that was something that annoyed a lot of people in the industry at the time as I recall. It was one of the first times that business customers had a choice, so it was a very significant moment for us and local businesses,” Eric said.

Alongside running TSI (Ireland), in 1996 Eric was appointed the head of Orange in Northern Ireland. In 1997 ( for a period of 8 years), Carson was joined by former Telephone Rentals colleague Martin Hamill and together rebranded TSI (Ireland) to Rainbow Telecom.  They worked with a team of five people from Dundonald Enterprise Centre on the outskirts of Belfast providing lines and call services.

“One of the things I am most proud of in my career to date is the growth of Rainbow Communications. Martin and I have financed that growth ourselves and year on year we have managed to expand our business to the point where last year we were able to acquire UTV Connect business from UTV Media Plc, a watershed moment for all of us at Rainbow.

“We have a highly skilled workforce of over 100 staff and when you think of the fact that we started in 1998 with only five employees, that’s really something to be proud of, especially in an industry which has been developing at such speed.  We have always focussed on offering our customers the best possible value with a consistently high level of customer service and I believe this strategy has been the key reason for our continued success,” Eric said.

Over the years Rainbow Communications has continued to expand the services it provides customers so today in addition to providing calls and lines it now offers mobiles, broadband, systems, cloud telephony, IT services, vehicle tracking and more to over 10,000 businesses throughout the UK and Ireland.

“In such a competitive environment it is vital to continue to evolve and offer customers a range of services, but the key is to stay competitive.  You have to look after your customers.  Being and staying local has enhanced our ability to keep our high service standards and that’s something we are extremely proud of.

“Another important aspect of business, particular here in Northern Ireland is continuity, which is why I am delighted to have my son Stuart heavily involved in the company for 16 years now. Stuart is the sales & marketing director and I am very proud that we share the same passion and vision for the business and it’s my wish that Stuart and his colleagues experience even greater success in the future,” Eric added.

“I may have been in business for 50 years but I have no plans to rest on my laurels just yet.  I will continue to work hard with my fellow director Martin Hamill and our dedicated team to help keep Rainbow Communications at the forefront of the industry in Northern Ireland.  There are many exciting journeys ahead I’m sure and we are currently recruiting people to head up our relatively new operations in both the Republic of Ireland and Scotland to help expand the Rainbow Communications philosophy and vision.

“We have many exciting projects to roll out and there’s always lots happening at Rainbow Communications to hopefully keep me busy for many years to come,” Eric concluded.


First Published: 28/09/15

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