Saturday 19 August 2017

Niall Quinn broadband firm forced to drop service to 3,000 customers in dispute with partner firm

Niall Quinn and his daughter Aisling pictured at the launch of the Q Sat Broadband in 2013 Picture Colin Keegan, Collins, Dublin.
Niall Quinn and his daughter Aisling pictured at the launch of the Q Sat Broadband in 2013 Picture Colin Keegan, Collins, Dublin.

Rebecca Lumley

A national broadband company, owned by former Irish player Niall Quinn, is in dispute with their partner satellite company and has dropped service to 3,000 customers over the past two days, it has emerged.

Q-Sat, which provides internet access in many rural areas of Ireland, is in dispute with Avanti, a PLC which provides satellite service to partner companies in 118 countries.

Speaking on RTE Liveline today, Mr Quinn explained that the companies are gearing up for legal battle over an “unworkable contract” that left Q-Sat “effectively paying for fresh air.”

Though he did not go into detail about the nature of the dispute, he said:

“We have what we are calling an unworkable contract for a variety of reasons. We’ve kept trying to put it right. We’ve got to the position where the contract was going to be put right, it kept getting put back and back. It’s very hard for us to keep going.”

However a spokesperson for Avanti said service will continue for Q-Sat customers "without interruption".

On Wednesday Q-Sat’s 3,000 customers were left without internet access when Avanti pulled their service. Quinn’s company was supplied with band-width by Avanti, without which the company could not provide broadband.

Quinn told stand-in Liveline host, Philip Boucher Hayes, he must now farm customers to other broadband suppliers until the legal dispute has been resolved.

He said: “(We have a) service agreement with our customers, we have to make sure they’re (online) all the time. It is really beguiling because we don’t know the other company, so we’re not recommending them. We’re really just trying to make sure that our customers get back online until the legal process escalates to where we can get our service back.”

When asked if Q-sat could simply find another band-width provider, Quinn said it was too lengthy a process to consider at present.

He said: “We would need to put new dishes in, new installments. It’s a process that takes some time and we have to prioritise really and see what is best for our customers and right now it’s just to get them back online and then perhaps we can gather ourselves, fight a legal process and work out where we can go.”

Quinn’s company was on an upward curve, with Q-sat “looking at opportunities in east Africa and elsewhere.”

Quinn said that while this would take a considerable toll on the business, he is hopeful that they will be able to recover.

He said: “We had some bright things happening alright but it all got dragged down by this unworkable contract. The bottom line is we’re still very much alive, we don’t have creditors out there screaming for money, we just have this issue that we thought we could resolve and the drastic action taken by the big PLC.

“We have a different course to follow now and I’m going to have to protect my staff as much as I can and I must get this legal process in play.”

When asked if his experiences on the football pitch had taught him how to overcome such adversity, Mr Quinn joked: “I can’t kick anyone or elbow anyone, if that’s what you’re saying.

“We took a really low blow from this big, giant UK PLC and our customers suffered, our staff has suffered but I never lay down too long when I played and I certainly won’t be this time.”

A spokesman for Avanti PLC said: "It's 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.  

"We have notified QSAT’s customers that their service will continue without interruption.  It remains live, all they have to do is call the new supplier, Bentley Walker on +44 2392 311 103, who can take over management of the account and offer best value for money and stable reliable service and support."  

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