Niall Quinn’s Q-Sat switched off over dispute with British provider
Satellite broadband service had 3,000 customers in less accessible rural areas
Niall Quinn: said the decision by Avanti to switch off Q-Sat’s services had come with no warning “like a Scud missile”. Photograph: Inpho/Morgan Treacy
Q-Sat bought bandwidth from Avanti and used this to provide broadband services to more than 3,000 households in rural Ireland, targeting hard-to-reach areas with limited access to other forms of broadband.
The dispute between Avanti and Q-Sat led the British company to effectively switch off Q-Sat’s services on Tuesday, leaving its customers without service. Avanti has advised Q-Sat customers to switch to another broadband provider, UK company Bentley Walker.
An emotional Mr Quinn told RTÉ radio on Friday that the decision by Avanti to switch off Q-Sat’s services had come with no warning “like a Scud missile”. He conceded that the future of his company is in serious doubt.
Mr Quinn owns 50 per cent of Q-Sat, with the other 50 per cent owned by a group of Irish and international investors through a British Virgin Islands vehicle, Maxillian SA.
Mr Quinn says that at the core of Q-Sat’s dispute with Avanti is a contract signed in 2011 for the Irish company to utilise Avanti’s satellite.
He said that because of the number of customers Q-Sat has signed up, the contract leaves his company paying “for fresh air”, suggesting that Q-Sat may be contracted to pay for more capacity than it is selling.
Avanti said it is “sad to see a partner exit the market, but our first priority is to the end user to make sure they continue to access the internet without interruption”. It said they could do this by switching to Bentley Walker.
The last filed accounts for Q-Sat, for 2014, show accumulated losses of €3.5 million and a deficit of €2.8 million. It is understood that its contract with Avanti is worth more than £13 million and the financial dispute is for a high six-figure sum.