Tuesday 13 November 2018

Published memo `alarmed' telecoms licence applicant

THE existence of an internal memo, revealed by this newspaper, ``alarmed'' a businessman whose company was yesterday given leave by the High Court

Broadnet Ireland Ltd was refused a special telecoms licence by Ms Doyle on February 2 last.

Mr Justice Thomas Smyth granted permission to Broadnet Ireland Ltd, Northumberland Road, Dublin, to take proceedings by way of judicial review.

The company is also seeking an order quashing a decision of the Director of September 21 last that it was not ranked as one of the first four applicants in the competition for broadband wireless in the local loop licences.

Declan Ganley, of Ganley International, Tuam, Co Galway, in an affidavit presented by Mr Frank Clarke SC, said he was a director of Broadnet Ireland. By tender issued in February 1999, the Director invited applications for the right to provide and operate services within Ireland for a period of 10 years.

The invitation was to prospective licensees for four broadband and four narrowband licences. As appeared from the tender document, the applications were to be evaluated in a two-stage process to select the successful applicants.

By letter of September 21 last, the Director notified Broadnet that it had not been ranked in the first four applicants.

On January 20 last, the Irish Independent carried an article under the heading ``Regulator denies bias in award of licences'' which caused him extreme alarm, continued Mr Ganley.

The article referred to a memo which apparently had been written by the Director to the Department of Finance from which it appeared she had pre-determined Telecom Eireann would obtain a licence. Mr Ganley said he was alarmed when he found the Office had apparently designed its model to enable Telecom Eireann to be in a better position to get a licence by virtue of its infrastructure and credibility. Broadnet's solicitors wrote to the Office.

A response was received stating that a document attached was ``an informal reminder note'' used during an oral presentation to the Finance Department.

It was written in the context of arguing to that Department that a ``beauty contest'' was the best approach for allocating licences.

Following that presentation, it added, the ODTR held a meeting with the Finance Department and formally submitted a memo outlining the scale of fees that would apply to licensees. Mr Ganley said the response did not alleviate in Broadnet's concern in any way.

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