Alternative operators want clarity on NGNs

23 Apr 2008

The organisation representing alternative licensed telcos in Ireland ALTO has said the industry is concerned Eircom may be holding off on its next-generation network (NGNs) plans until it gets a deal from the Government.

It emerged last week that Eircom submitted a proposal to Government seeking support for a potential €500m broadband upgrade which would affect nine ‘gateway’ towns. These would then in turn supply 70pc of the nation’s broadband needs.

These towns include: Dublin, Cork, Limerick/Shannon, Galway, Waterford, Dundalk, Sligo, Letterkenny, Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar.

In return, Eircom would promise a level playing field for other operators to access this 25Mbps network, provided there was scope for a return on investment for the former state-owned operator.

“Based on recent reports there is concern in the industry that Eircom is holding off on NGN plans until it gets a deal from the government,” said Liam O’Halloran, chairman of ALTO.

“A year and a half ago Eircom stated their intention to roll out an NGN network within two years without any mention of state incentives.

“Now it looks like it could be well beyond that before we see any significant rollout of next-generation broadband. This is an unacceptable situation for the alternative telecommunications industry where competition and investment is imperative to its survival and to support a knowledge-based economy.

As the economy enters a testing business environment, O’Halloran said that competition must not be stifled and investment stalled, and that the industry needs to have definite certainty from Eircom.

“ALTO’s view echoes those of other competing operators in the market – it shouldn’t fall on the taxpayer to fund a private company to deliver a service Eircom has been promising to deliver for well over a year,” O’Halloran concluded

By John Kennedy