Eir convergence plan picks up speed as it passes 1.7m premises with fibre

13 Sep 2017

Image: fuyu liu/Shutterstock

The fibre in Eir’s diet is giving the telco a healthy glow.

Convergence is the watchword as Eir moves to swiftly consolidate its reach in mobile, fibre and TV.

In the company’s fourth-quarter results, it reported a 4pc decrease in revenues of €323m.

‘We have passed 1.7m premises with fibre, and are on track to pass 300,000 rural premises with fibre to the home by December 2018’

For the full year, revenues increased 1pc, or by €10m, to €1.32bn. EBITDA earnings of €520m were up €20m, or 4pc on last year, while overall operating costs were down by 5pc, or €26m on last year.

Eir, the incumbent operator in Ireland, reported cash-flow generation of €67m.

CEO Richard Moat said that 80,000 of the 300,000 rural fibre-to-the-home premises agreed with the Irish Government – which were originally in the National Broadband Plan intervention area – have now been passed with fibre.

Eir has 551,000 fibre customers, amounting to 61pc of its total broadband base, up 21,000 during the fourth quarter.

Total live broadband connections stand at 896,000, up 42pc.

Eir revealed that wholesale broadband connections increased by 6,000 in the fourth quarter and 47,000 for the full year, bringing total wholesale lines to 452,000 lines. Last week, Eir signed a major wholesale deal with Pure Telecom to connect it to 2m potential customers.

Eir said its retail broadband base remained broadly flat in the quarter at a total of 444,000 customers, declining by 5,000 compared to the year before.

On the mobile front, Eir now has just over 1m total mobile customers, out of which 48.5pc are on billed contracts. It said that 21pc of households include their mobile phones in a bundle, up 3pc on last year.

Overall, Eir is now attracting 2.19 revenue generating units (RGUs) from each household it serves, up from 2.06 RGUs a year ago.

Convergence is at the core of Eir’s strategy

Crucially, around a quarter of Eir’s customers are now on triple- or quad-play bundles, and this is the nexus of Eir’s real strategy.

“We continue to focus on our convergence strategy to provide seamless connectivity to customers across all devices, and we are doing more than any other operator to connect the people of Ireland, having spent over €1.6bn on our fixed and mobile infrastructure in the last five years,” Moat explained.

“We have passed 1.7m premises with fibre, and are on track to pass 300,000 rural premises with fibre to the home by December 2018. Substantial progress towards this goal has already been achieved, with close to one-third of the programme already completed.

“In relation to mobile, we now offer 4G mobile coverage to 96pc of the population and we have introduced a number of product innovations during the year.

“We were the first operator in Ireland to launch Wi-Fi calling, boosting indoor mobile coverage for our customers and improving customer experience. Last week, we rebranded our stand-alone mobile business from Meteor to Eir, which better supports our convergence strategy. We now offer all mobile customers a fantastic range of exciting services, including free Eir Sport to our high-end mobile postpay customers,” Moat said.

Eir also recently acquired 3.6GHz spectrum as part of the Irish Government and ComReg’s initial 5G spectrum licence auctions.

As fibre becomes more entrenched and as wireless quality improves with 4G and 5G, the race among all operators will be to consolidate and hold customers’ hearts – and wallets – through clever bundling options.

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