Eir risks fine after missing key rural broadband deadline
Eir is to miss its June deadline for connecting 300,000 rural Irish homes to fibre broadband.
Under a controversial contract with the government signed in 2017, the company pledged to roll out fibre-to-the-home broadband to 300,000 rural premises, removing them from the government’s intervention area map of 840,000 premises for the state-subsidised National Broadband Plan.
The company later extended that target number to 330,000.
However, a spokesman for Eir said that a number of homes remain unconnected as a ‘hard deadline’ of the end of June approaches. He said that the majority of the 300,000 original rural premises have been passed by the company, as per the deal with the government.
But he said that factors including road construction and a delay on council licenses was holding up a “small number” of the designated areas.
Under the terms of the contract between the government and Eir, this leaves the company open to penalties, most likely the cost of reintegrating the outstanding homes into the National Broadband Plan scheme.
However, the company believes that the “mitigating circumstances” holding up the remaining premises will see avoid the accrual of fines or penalties.
The spokesman said that Eir has passed over 300,000 of the 330,000 homes identified in its rural fibre broadband plans. The premises yet to be connected are part of the original 300,000 pledged to the government.
Meanwhile, the state is continuing to work on a contract for the National Broadband Plan with its preferred bidder, National Broadband Ireland, the entity formed by Granada’s McCourt. A deal is expected by the Autumn with construction of the broadband network to 540,000 rural premises expected to start in early 2020.