Eir moves to reassure customers over broadband 'frustration'

As it launches its new Dingle hub and offers a business performance update...

Eir has revealed an earnings increase of 5% for the first nine months of its financial year, owing to increased take-up of its broadband offering.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) climbed €17m to €374m year-on-year.

EBITDA (or trading profits) jumped 10% to €131m for the three month period to the end of March . Profits for the nine month period of its financial year to date are 5% higher at  €374m.

Sales growth through both the third quarter and nine-month period have been at a more modest 1% and 2% respectively, so the profits growth has reflected significant cost reduction both in terms of operating and financing costs.

The country's largest telecoms group said that recent restructuring of its borrowings and borrowing facilities have delivered up to €40m alone in annual interest cost savings

Eir, which is currently owned by a number of large private equity funds but is likely to seek a new stock market flotation within the next two years, has invested more than €500m to date in provision of high quality fibre broadband to date.

It recently reached an agreement with the Government to connect another 300,000 homes across rural Ireland with fibre to the home by the end of next year and it is also tendering with two competitors for the National Broadband Roll-out programme that plans to connect the whole of the country in time.

Speaking to Breakfast Business this morning, chief executive Richard Moat defended the company against the ongoing complaints about the quality and speed of the broadband service:

"Well certainly the broadband which we're rolling out now to these 300,000 homes and businesses is top quality. It's the best you can get anywhere in Europe or the rest of the world – it's one gigabit per second.

"Now obviously that is replacing broadband connections out in rural Ireland which maybe supply only one or two megabits per second.

"So it's really a transformational development. And I understand people's frustration who have these very slow speeds but we are building this 300,000 homes network. We're the only party out there that is doing anything of any substance in rural Ireland. And we're doing it as rapidly as we can."

The update comes as Eir throws the doors of its new creativity and innovation hub open in Dingle, which is expected to create more than 100 jobs over the next five years.

Moat said:

"It's going to be the first of a number of digital hubs that we're going to support throughout the country. It aims to attract high-tech jobs down here to Dingle in south-west Ireland and it's facilitated by the one gigabit per second high-speed direct fibre connection which we've put into the centre."