Wednesday 24 January 2018

Eircom promises new rural fibre broadband will overtake city speeds

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Eircom is planning a high speed fibre broadband service for every rural home and business in the country, as part of an upcoming Government tender on rolling out national fibre broadband.

The move would see so-called ‘fibre-to-the-home’ broadband rolled out over a four-year timeframe starting in 2016. It could see cities such as Dublin, Cork and Limerick left behind in a reversal of the current digital divide.

“We envisage delivering up to one gigabit per second capability to customers covered by the [National Broadband] tender,” said Richard Moat, Eircom’s chief executive.

“Very rural locations could soon have faster broadband speeds than parts of urban Ireland.”

The Government will announce its €500m rural broadband tender later this year. Eircom faces stiff competition from Vodafone and the ESB, who have joined forces to deliver fibre broadband into 500,000 homes and businesses in 50 regional towns over the next three years using existing electricity lines.

Both the Vodafone-ESB service and Eircom’s ‘fibre-to-the-home’ alternative will kick off this autumn, starting with Cavan town.

Both parties say the services will result in home broadband speeds of 1,000Mbs, matching services currently available in world-beating cities such Seoul and Tokyo.

Fibre technology delivers the fastest broadband available as it bypasses telephone landlines, piping fibre directly into ordinary homes and businesses.

At present, broadband speeds in rural Ireland vary dramatically. A recent Government mapping survey revealed that a third of the country is unable to access “acceptable” internet services with homes often stuck at under 5Mbs.

 EU targets say that modern broadband services should have speeds of at least 30Mbs, while US authorities have now redefined the meaning of ‘broadband’ as a service over 25Mbs.

Earlier this month, the Government said that it was in “positive” discussions with the European Investment Bank to help fund the rollout of the new rural fibre broadband service.

It is hopeful of getting a green light soon from the European Commission, which regulates state interventions in existing markets, to proceed with the rural tender.

Irish Independent

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