eir pulls out of Ireland's national broadband plan

eir has become the latest Irish operator to pull out of the country’s broadband tender programme, citing a range of “risks”.

Unveiled in 2012, the National Broadband Plan aims to deliver 30MBps broadband to every home and business in the country, with the government subsidising new infrastructure where companies did not plan to invest.

eir cited a number of unspecified commercial issues and complexity within the tender process, as well as uncertainty on regulatory and pricing issues which fell outside the remit of the process.

The operator was shortlisted as a bidder in mid-2016 and alongside fellow bidder Enet submitted detailed proposals in September for the plan, since receiving feedback on their proposals.

eir said in a statement it would “continue to play its part in delivering high speed broadband for all and will support the NBP process through commercial access to our infrastructure and the company remains committed to working with key stakeholders to ensure that high speed broadband is available to all corners of the country.”

The operator is still committed to a contract it signed with the Government to roll out high speed broadband to over 300,000 premises in rural Ireland.

“This decision is ultimately a commercial matter for eir,” said Irish Minister for Communications Denis Naughten.

“The company invested significant time and resources to the process and their withdrawal from the process at this late stage is regrettable.”

The move leaves Enet as the last provider standing in the NBP after SIRO, Vodafone’s joint venture with energy company ESB, pulled out of the programme in September.

Naughten said Enet had reaffirmed its commitment to the process and that he would continue to engage with it and other stakeholders before awarding the contract.

As of September 2017, 65 percent of the 2.3 million premises around the country have access to high speed broadband.

The NBP aims to extend this to 77 percent by the end of 2018, climbing to 90 percent in 2020.

eir's withdrawal comes a month after Iliad and its owner Xavier Niel paid €3.5 billion for a combined 34.5 percent share of the company.

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