Former Ireland international Niall Quinn became emotional this afternoon when discussing the current problems of broadband provider Qsat.
Quinn is a shareholder and chairman of the Irish company, which launched in August 2011 and provides satellite broadband to households and businesses across Ireland, particularly in rural locations.
QSat has been involved in a long-running dispute with its connectivity provider Avanti Communications over their existing contract. On Wednesday QSat’s 3000 customers found themselves without internet access, when Avanti cut the service to QSat.
When customers logged in to their QSat accounts they were advised to switch to another service provider, which works with Avanti and uses the same satellite dishes.
Customers have been left in the dark and Mr Quinn spoke to RTÉ’s Liveline this afternoon to explain the situation.
“We are in the middle of a two-year legal dispute with our satellite supplier. The legal dispute escalates now.”
Mr Quinn advised customers listening to switch providers as suggested in order to get internet access back as soon as possible. He acknowledged this meant QSat losing them, possibly forever, but said his priority was looking after his customers.
“They come first, and we’ll fight our fight. Our customer situation is alarming, we have put our staff on appraisal about how things are going here.”
He also acknowledged that the dispute related to a contract which QSat signed with Avanti but insisted it was "unworkable".
He paid tribute to staff he said were working overtime despite the clear threat of losing their jobs.
Presenter Philip Boucher Hayes asked if Mr Quinn could apply lessons from the football pitch to his current situation.
“Well, I can’t kick anyone or elbow anyone!
“But I never lay down for too long when I played and I won’t be this time either.”
The former striker became emotional when a QSat customer rang in to offer his support.
“Thank you, I take real heart from it," he said. "You get very emotional at a time like this, as tough as you want to be.
“It gives us energy to make us believe that we were doing a good job and we had a decent business."
When contacted, Avanti released a statement saying: "All QSAT consumers continue to enjoy normal service, no consumer has had their service switched off.
"QSAT has not paid its bills to Avanti therefore QSAT’s contract has been terminated for non-payment. Despite this, it does not affect the service its consumers have paid for.
"Our first priority is to make sure that the innocent consumers continue to access the Internet without interruption, at our cost. Therefore we have notified QSAT’s consumers that their service will continue without interruption.
"All they have to do is call the new supplier, Bentley Walker on 0845 8730266, who can take over management of the account and offer best value for money and stable and reliable service and support."