Eircom says 300k more homes and firms to get fibre, Q1 revenues fall 7pc to €363m

7 Dec 2012

Eircom has revealed the locations of the next 300,000 homes and businesses in Ireland that will receive fibre broadband and claims the network, which will reach 1m premises by December 2014 will be the largest in the country. The company said revenues for its first quarter ending 30 September declined by €26m to €363m.

The company also announced this morning that operating costs were €160m for the quarter, a 4pc improvement on the previous year.

EBITDA decreased by €14m on the prior year to €124m for the quarter, down 10pc on the same period in 2011.

In June, Eircom exited examinership with new capital and shareholders in place. The examinership process removed €1.7bn worth of debt from Eircom’s balance sheet, about 40pc of group debt. At the time, Eircom said it would be now embarking on a five-year business plan that would include a €1bn home-fibre broadband rollout.

Eircom’s total customer base stood at 2,058,000 on 30 September 2012 and includes 1,079,000 mobile customers.

In the broadband market, Eircom lost 2,000 retail broadband customers for the quarter through 30 September 2012, resulting in 459,000 customers, a 4pc reduction of its customer base year on year. The PSTN customer base fell to 979,000, a reduction of 19,000 customers in the quarter, a 9pc reduction year on year. 

In the mobile segment, the group’s customers grew by 3pc on the prior year to 1,079,000 through the end of September. This has been largely driven by continued strong post-pay growth that resulted in 20,000 net mobile additions for the quarter. Mobile revenues continued to decline by 5pc for the quarter but mobile EBITDA grew by €2m compared to the previous year.

In October, the company revealed plans to cut 2,000 workers within two years and the company’s new CEO Herb Hribar said the company is committed to achieving the targeted reduction in headcount.

“The performance of the business continues to decline, but the decline is slowing and is in line with our expectations and our business plan,” Hribar said. “We remain fully committed to our cost-reduction targets and believe that the reduction in 2,000 employees is achievable within the two-year time frame.

“The recent launch of our converged broadband and mobile bundle demonstrates our commitment to offer customers real value with innovative new products. Early trading indicates strong customer take-up ahead of projections and we plan to continue to retain and win back customers in what is a very competitive telecoms market operating with a difficult economic backdrop,” Hribar added.

Plans to build Ireland’s biggest fibre network

Earlier this week, research by Point Topic revealed Ireland is trailing the rest of Europe in terms of superfast broadband deployment and nowhere near the “digital heaven” envisioned by Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission, in her Digital Agenda.

However, Hribar said the company is on track with its strategy to deliver superfast broadband across Ireland. He said this morning that together with the rollout of the recently purchased 4G spectrum Eircom will be able to offer broadband speeds of up to 70Mbps by summer 2013.

“We are constructing Ireland’s largest fibre broadband network and today I am delighted to announce the locations of the next 300,000 homes and businesses across Ireland that will receive fibre broadband.”

The 300,000 additional homes and premises are in the key towns and districts in Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow.

“This phase of the network is scheduled to finish in December 2014 and will reach 1m premises. Eircom has already reached more than 150,000 premises and it is hoped that the network, which is available to all operators, will deliver services to customers in the first half of next year,” Hribar said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years