Eir rejects claim its roll-out of rural internet led to 'difficulties' with the National Broadband Plan
Eir has rejected a suggestion its roll-out of high-speed internet to more than 300,000 rural homes contributed to difficulties for the National Broadband Plan (NBP).
The NBP process has been hit by delays, while two bidders for the contract, including Eir, dropped out.
The telecoms company's chief executive, Carolan Lennon, was quizzed yesterday at the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
She said Eir's €250m investment wiykd lead to broadband being offered to 335,000 homes and businesses and wouldn't cost taxpayers anything. These premises were originally among 850,000 to be covered by the NBP.
Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said Eir's roll-out represented the most commercially viable homes, making those remaining in the NBP area less attractive.
He asked whether it was part of the reason there were "difficulties" with the NBP.
"I don't believe so," Ms Lennon said. She said Eir remained in the NBP bidding process even after its plan to provide broadband to 300,000 homes on a commercial basis.
Questions were also raised about the extension of a separate internet contract, the Metropolitan Area Networks, to another company, Enet, without a tendering process.
Representatives of Eir and BT told TDs they would have been interested in tendering.
Enet boss Peter McCarthy said an expert report for the Communications Department recommended extending the contract.