Broadband firm to bring superfast 1,000Mbs service to 300 more towns
An extra 300 towns have been targeted for superfast broadband in an expansion of the fibre service from a joint venture between the ESB and Vodafone..
The €450m regional fibre broadband service delivers speed of up 1,000 megabits per second (Mbs) - at least four times faster than services available in cities..
The service, which is due to launch this autumn, was originally planned for just 50 large towns but an expansion is already in the works.
"We'll be looking at the next 300 towns as soon as we have the first 50 towns started," said Sean Atkinson, chief executive of the joint venture broadband operator between the ESB and Vodafone.
The extra towns are likely to include villages as small as 100 buildings, said the new operator's technical director, Trevor Lucey.
The fibre service uses existing electricity lines to pipe broadband directly into homes and businesses.
The first 50 towns to get the service include Monaghan, Portlaoise, Tramore and Athlone.
Cavan Town, where the service has been installed in two estates containing 300 homes, will be the launch town for the new operator's official unveiling this Autumn.
"It means that Cavan will be on a par with some of the world's leading cities," said Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys at a demonstration of the service. "It will mean no more buffering when we go online."
The wider construction of the fibre broadband service will commence this summer before it becomes available to buy in the autumn.
Under the terms of the service, the ESB and Vodafone will sell wholesale access to individual broadband retailers, which will then sell the product to homeowners and businesses.
Vodafone has confirmed it will be one of the broadband retailers to sell the service.
Pricing for the service has not yet been unveiled.
"I'd probably be willing to pay €15 or €20 more than normal for it but any more than that and I'm not sure," said Declan Brady, a homeowner in Cavan trialling the new service.
Another resident with the service said that it had made a big difference to his business.
"There's no comparison with what I had before," said Kevin Callery of MK Sound, a local business. "It's a huge step up."
However, the fibre service is initially targeted at large towns with at least 4,000 buildings and will not reach rural areas until after 2018.
It is a separate initiative to the state-subsidised National Broadband Plan, which promises fibre broadband to every part of rural Ireland by 2020.
"This isn't a rural rollout it's a regional rollout," said Stephen O'Connor, director of corporate affairs for the new ESB-Vodafone operator. "And it's a commercial proposition that has to be commercially viable. We can't run it at a loss. That said, we're going to cover 500,000 of the state's 2.2 million housing stock, with more possibly on the way."
The new fibre broadband service will have competition from Eircom, which has also announced an early autumn date for the unveiling of its own 1,000Mbs fibre-to-the-home service.
Eircom's service will initially reach 3,000 homes in Cavan, with a further 15 towns targeted for an autumn launch. The operator says it is building fibre-to-the-home broadband in 66 Irish towns in the coming years.