ALTO could lodge EC complaint if government reconsiders NBP plans

9 Jul 2019

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators (ALTO), a group representing ten of Ireland’s telecoms providers, has said it could lodge a complaint with the EC should the government reconsider how the National Broadband Plan (NBP) will be delivered. This development comes in the wake of former monopoly operator eir claiming last month that it could complete the NBP for around EUR1 billion (USD1.1 billion), significantly less than the EUR3 billion that is currently expected to be spent on the project.

According to Silicon Republic, in a letter sent to communications minister Richard Bruton, the ALTO referred to eir’s claims, arguing that they lacked credibility and urging the government not to consider the proposals any further despite ‘acute and clear political pressures’. ALTO chairperson Ronan Lupton wrote: ‘If the tactical interference in a public procurement process, grounded in State aid law and rules, is seen to have borne fruit, then ALTO considers it will be appropriate to bring such a matter to the attention of the European Commission Directorates General Competition and Information Society for further investigation.’

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE) was cited as saying that eir’s recently-presented plan for the NBP had already failed to satisfy key criteria related to State aid, transparency, access to the network for commercial providers, risk-sharing and State clawbacks for profit. ‘The Department will respond comprehensively to this letter, but from an initial consideration and comments made in the [Communications] committee, it is clear that this new approach [from eir] has not met the above conditions,’ the unnamed spokesperson was cited as saying.