Vodafone is to build an ultrafast fibre broadband network across Ireland giving speeds of up to 1Gbps half to more than half a million homes in 50 towns.
The firm will invest €450 million in building the network across urban and rural areas, using the electricity poles and underground infrastructure of Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board (ESB).
The joint venture with the state-owned ESB will need approval from the European Commission, but could start rolling out in the next few months with the first customers to use the service in early 2015.
Vodafone Ireland’s chief executive, Anne O’Leary, said the project would make Ireland the first European country to roll out fibre-to-the-premises nationwide using electricity infrastructure.
“With the number of devices per household anticipated to almost double over the next four years and more bandwidth-hungry services being developed, this new broadband service will enable a whole range of new services to be offered to Irish customers in the future from entertainment, security, teleworking to web-based gaming or home automation,” said O’Leary.
“Vodafone is delighted to partner with ESB to make Ireland the first European country to roll-out nationwide fibre-to-the-building broadband on electricity infrastructure, making a hyper-connected future a reality for hundreds of thousands of Irish people and businesses.”
The ESB already has around 800 miles of fibre in the ground, which Vodafone will extend into premises alongside existing power lines, allowing a fast rollout.
The first stage of the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, with scope for a second phase reaching more homes in new locations.
Users should get speeds from around 200Mpbs up to 1Gbps, compared to the top speed of around 80Mbps on BT’s superfast broadband network being extended under the BDUK project, which relies on copper wires between the cabinet and the premises, instead of offering fibre all the way to the door.
Vodafone aims to offer mobile and fixed-line services using the fibre connectivity. The network will be open to all telecoms operators in Ireland to resell the fibre product to their customers.
The first stage rollout will cover Arklow, Athlone, Balbriggan, Ballina, Ballincollig, Bray, Carlow, Carrick-on-Shannon, Carrigaline, Castlebar, Cavan, Celbridge, Clare, Clonmel, Cobh, Cork, Cork City Shannon, Donegal, Drogheda, Dublin, Dundalk, East Cork, Ennis, Enniscorthy, Galway City Tramore, Gorey, Greystones, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Killarney, Laois, Leitrim, Leixlip, Letterkenny, Limerick City, Little Island, Longford, Louth Skerries/Rush, Louth Sligo, Mallow, Maynooth/Kilcock, Mayo, Naas/Johnstown/Sallins, Navan, Meath, Midleton, Monaghan, Mullingar, Newbridge, Offaly, Portlaoise, Roscommon, Swords/Malahide/Portmarnock, Tipperary, Tralee, Tullamore, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford Tralee, Wicklow, Waterford City, and Westport