Eir says it outlined issues with State’s broadband plan a year ago

Revenues decline 2% on both quarterly and half year bases as ebitda up 4% in Q2

Revenues for the company declined 2 per cent on both a quarterly and six monthly basis to €322 million and €638 million respectively

Revenues for the company declined 2 per cent on both a quarterly and six monthly basis to €322 million and €638 million respectively

 

Eir, which stunned the Government by withdrawing from the State’s National Broadband Plan for rural internet on Wednesday, insists it outlined to department officials what its “red line” issues were in negotiations a year ago.

“The contract would have required us to establish a duplicate wholesale operations, costing tens of millions of euro. Our existing wholesale operation, Open Eir, would not have been allowed to operate within the NBP footprint,” said Richard Moat, Eir’s chief executive.

He said this was one of several “red line issues” that were communicated to officials a year earlier in the tender process.

Mr Moat, who will exit the business in April, when it is expected that a majority takeover by French investors will be completed, also critcised parallel moves by Comreg, the regulator, to limit fees Eir could charge other operators for access to its infrastructure.

“Any regulator has to strike a balance between encouraging investment and promoting competiton. The balance has gone too far towards promoting competition.”

Mr Moat was speaking on Friday following the release of its half year results.

It said underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation(ebitda), before storm costs are taken into consideration, rose 4 per cent or €4 million to €125 million in its second quarter, and were up 3 per cent to €250 million for the six months to the end of December.

Revenues declined 2 per cent on both a quarterly and six monthly basis to €322 million and €638 million respectively. Eir said growth in broadband and bundling during was offset by reductions in low margin business revenue.

Operating costs for the company fell by 6 per cent or €15 million for the final six months of 2017 and were down by 8 per cent or €10 million on a quarterly basis.

Eir said it now has 595,000 fibre broadband connections, which accounts for approximately 65 per cent of its total customer base which stands at 911,000, up 4 per cent year-on-year.

The company added that roll-out of high-speed broadband continues with 73 per cent of premises in Ireland having access to the technology.

“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,” it said.

Eir dramatically withdrew from the National Broadband Plan earlier this week saying the risks were too high for the company given the “significant commercial issues and complexity within the process.”

The company said it has 1.06 million mobile customers at the end of the reporting period, of which 49 per cent are on postpay contracts. Mobile revenues totalled €89 million for the second quarter, broadly flat compared to the same three month period a year earlier.

In the fixed line segment, revenues totalled €242 million in the second quarter, down 3 per cent versus the same quarter in 2016.. On a year to date basis, fixed line revenue of €481 million reduced by €18 million or 4 per cent compared to the prior year period.

The group said it has 74,000 Eir Vision television customers, up 11,000 year-on-year. In addition, 27 per cent of its customers are on either triple or quad play bundles.

A plan to sell a 64.5 per cent stake in Eir to two companies controlled by French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel in a deal that values the phone group at €3.5 billion was confirmed in late December.