Siro chief says fibre broadband network will be ‘cash cow’ for ESB and Vodafone

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Siro chief says fibre broadband network will be ‘cash cow’ for ESB and Vodafone


Siro boss Sean Atkinson
Siro boss Sean Atkinson

Siro’s expanding regional fibre network will be a “cash cow” for Vodafone and the ESB, its chief executive has said.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent as it prepares to announce that it has enabled 175,000 homes and businesses in regional towns for its fibre broadband, Sean Atkinson said that while Siro’s €450m construction bill is rising with labour costs, it is on track to be profitable.

“If you’ve built a robust network and a lean operation model and you have take-up, it becomes a cash cow,” he said. “Because the money’s spent up front. So it’s a matter of when do you get a simple payback and what the return looks like. We’re very comfortable with the business plan today.”

Atkinson said that the company still intends to build beyond the 450,000 regional homes and businesses promised in its first phase, although this will not now be completed later this year as was initially pledged.

He also said that the company’s business plan, which was originally based on sticking to regional towns, may be “evolving” to take in more of urban Ireland.

“We aspire to be a national player,” he said. “We’re seeing opportunities in the greater Dublin area and the commuter towns but we’re not planning on doing battle between the canals.”

The move comes as the Government continues to wait for Enet to explain how it will save its National Broadband Plan bid from disintegrating after its main construction partner, SSE walked away from the process.

Last week, Eir distanced itself from replacing SSE directly although the company is in ongoing discussions with Enet on other issues related to the NBP.

If Enet cannot find a satisfactory replacement for SSE in the coming weeks, the rural rollout could be delayed again into 2019.

Sunday Indo Business