Business Irish

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Sky ends boycott of Eir's fibre broadband

Sky is Ireland's fourth largest broadband provider. Stock picture
Sky is Ireland's fourth largest broadband provider. Stock picture
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

An industry boycott of Eir's growing fibre network looks to be waning, with one of Ireland's largest broadband resellers agreeing to conduct trials on the incumbent telco's network.

Sky, Ireland's fourth-largest broadband provider, had previously complained that Eir had set too high a price for retailers to make any money from reselling access to the fibre broadband network.

Along with Vodafone, Ireland's third-largest broadband retailer, it said it could not do business with Eir on its new network.

However, the company has now parked its objections and is trialling a consumer service on Eir's fibre service, which offers speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second, the joint-fastest in the country.

A spokeswoman for Sky Ireland confirmed the trial with Eir. "Sky has always indicated we are willing to work with any access service provider, be it Eir, Siro or the winners of the NBP contract in bringing fibre to the widest possible footprint," she said.

"At present, we are carrying out trials with Siro and Eir. With regards to Eircom's connection charges for FTTH, our position remains that we support ComReg's position that, if implemented, would see a significant reduction in the current €270 charge."

Eir's burgeoning fibre network, which will connect 300,000 homes and businesses located in rural parts of Ireland that are without any high-speed service, is being built privately under an agreement with the Government that it will be finished by the middle of next year. The 300,000 premises were originally part of the National Broadband Plan's map of 840,000 rural homes and businesses.

Eir says it is running behind on the rollout of the fibre network due to storms last year, but has now promised that the final tally of homes and businesses connected will rise to 330,000. Its last reported completion figure was 165,000 in June.

Eir is likely to announce new investment in its city and urban broadband networks this autumn as the company prepares a revised business strategy under new owner Xavier Niel.

Eir has no high-speed 'last mile' broadband infrastructure in Ireland's biggest broadband markets, ceding large chunks of the business to Virgin Media's cable broadband business.

Eir is the country's largest broadband provider while Virgin is second, thanks to its cable business in cities.

The news comes after Enet, the sole remaining bidder for the State-subsidised National Broadband Plan, has opted not to replace SSE as an anchor partner in its consortium. Instead, Enet has hired senior industry executives from abroad to oversee the construction process of the rural network.

Irish Independent

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