Mastermind of Eir’s broadband strategy rewarded with top job

Carolan Lennon uses annoucement to promise broadband for the masses

Carolan Lennon, Eir’s chief executive  designate  with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

Carolan Lennon, Eir’s chief executive designate with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

 

The woman who masterminded Eir’s rural broadband strategy and who probably played a major role in its decision to quit the National Broadband Plan last month has just been appointed as the company’s chief executive-designate and now promises to bring broadband “to every household and business across Ireland”.

Presumably when Carolan Lennon says “every household and business” she is forgetting about the 542,000 homes and businesses lassoed into the Government’s intervention plan, which Eir has abandoned to a very uncertain tender process, involving just one bidder with an as yet untested infrastructure and a Government backed into a corner politically and financially over its broadband policy.

As managing director of Open Eir, the telco’s infrastructural arm, Lennon has been leading the rollout of Eir’s fibre broadband to 300,000 rural homes, once included in the National Broadband Plan (NBP) but now, with the agreement of Government, included in Eir’s commercial plans.

It was this decision to nab the low-hanging fruit of the project, a perfectly legitimate policy, that many view as a masterstroke by Eir, allowing it to exit an increasingly convoluted process while still extracting a rent from the outcome.

By connecting the 300,000, the company essentially ‘donuted’ the remaining 542,000 homes with its own technology, which will now have to be traversed by the State-subsidised scheme, delivering a tidy rent – said to be in region of €20 million-plus a year – without the hassle of running cable across the country’s mind-numbingly complex rural sprawl.

Was this Lennon’s plan all along? Was her reward the chief executive’s role?

Either way, she can now refocus the former semi-state on its rollout of broadband in towns and cities – a simpler, more profitable endeavour – and one the company needs to implement if it is to halt the ongoing loss of market share to rivals such as Virgin and Sky.