Eir claims 21,000 fibre-to-the-home connections as acquisition proceeds

2 Feb 2018

Image: Rad K/Shutterstock

Eir cites regulatory and commercial complexity as reasons for leaving National Broadband Plan procurement process.

Ireland’s incumbent telecoms operator Eir reported revenues of €322m for its second quarter, down 2pc on last year.

The operator – which sensationally exited the Irish Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) process this week – said that it has now passed 170,000 premises in Ireland with fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband, out of which 21,000 FTTH connections have been activated.

‘The company’s board has decided that the risks are too great for its continued participation in the National Broadband Plan’

Eir confirmed that its 300,000 high-speed rural broadband roll-out agreed with the Irish Government last year continues.

In all, it has 595,000 fibre-based broadband connections in place, around 65pc of its total broadband base. It said that 27pc of customers are now on triple- or quad-play bundles incorporating phone, TV, broadband and mobile packages.

The company said that operating costs prior to Storm Ophelia had been on track to be reduced by €10m on last year. However, it recorded costs of €3m for network repairs caused by the winter storms.

CEO Richard Moat said that the acquisition of a majority stake in Eir at an enterprise value of €3.5bn by NJJ – the company founded by French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel – is continuing apace.

“The proposed acquisition continues to progress through the necessary regulatory approvals process both at European and domestic levels,” Moat said.

“I believe it is very positive for our customers and indeed for Ireland itself given the combined experience of both entities, and will position the company on a very solid footing for the future.”

Why did Eir exit the National Broadband Plan?

As reported this week, Eir exited the NBP process just months after ESB-Vodafone joint venture Siro left.

This leaves Enet-SSE as the last remaining bidder. Department of Communications officials said the Government will press ahead with the plan with a view to awarding contracts to Enet-SSE in September.

Officials promised that even if the Enet-SSE bid was to fall through for any reason, there is a “plan B” to connect the 540,000 rural premises currently stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Moat described the decision to exit the NBP as a difficult one to make.

“Based upon the significant commercial issues and complexity within the process, together with growing uncertainty on a range of regulatory and pricing issues that reside outside of the NBP process, the company’s board has decided that the risks are too great for its continued participation in the NBP.

“We remain supportive of the Government’s policy objective to bring high-speed broadband to all homes and businesses across Ireland, and our current unrivalled investment in fibre technology is progressing very well and we are delivering high-speed broadband to more and more customers every day.

Moat said that currently, more than 73pc of Irish premises have access to high-speed broadband, and that will grow to more than 80pc of homes and businesses when the rural 300,000 roll-out is complete.

“Our 300,000 rural broadband roll-out is progressing well and fibre-to-the-home technology is now available to more than 170,000 homes and businesses, including 130,000 of our rural roll-out. We are encouraged by the positive connection rates for the FTTH products to date. When combined with our mobile network, which delivers 4G coverage to 96pc of the population, our network infrastructure is providing seamless connectivity for our customers,” Moat said.

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