Broadband Developments will Transform Services in Towns Across Ireland

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White, T.D., has welcomed two developments announced this week, which will see fibre-to-the-home delivered to at least 500,000 homes and businesses across Ireland.

The Minister said intense competition has seen telecommunications companies investing some €2.5bn in the Irish telecommunications market. He said the Government was committed to ensuring that every home and business in Ireland will get high quality internet connectivity, of at least 30 mbps, through State-led intervention in communities where commercial services are not likely to be provided.

“The commercial sector is showing clear leadership in delivering quality services to customers. The Government intends to follow this with an ambitious investment in rural Ireland, ensuring that everyone has high speed, high quality broadband regardless of where they are located”.

Today, eircom announced its intention to immediately commence rollout of fibre-to-the-home services to 66 communities in 26 counties commencing in November. This development will see eircom enhance its offering to customers as part of its wider programme of rolling out fibre-based services to 1.6m addresses in Ireland.

In a separate development yesterday, ESB secured approval from the European Commission to proceed with a joint venture between ESB and Vodafone Ireland. Earlier this year, following the enactment of legislation, the ESB and Vodafone announced their intention to enter a joint venture partnership in which ESB’s distribution network will be used to deliver wholesale fibre-to-the-home services. It is understood that the joint venture will deliver these services to 50 towns in 26 counties, with rollout commencing in 2015.

Welcoming both developments, Minister White said “Fibre-to-the-premises is a leading edge product. Whether the fibre goes to the home or business, this is a truly future-proofed product with the capacity to deal with multiple demands, devices and applications. It will bring a level of connectivity to homes and small businesses that will serve generations to come”.

The Minister noted that these announcements signal the growth of intense competition in the broadband market in Ireland, with telecommunications companies investing in the region of €2.5bn in upgrading services and products. “Competition is driving the delivery of new high speed fixed and wireless services to customers across Ireland” Minister White said, noting that eircom in particular has already passed 1 million homes with its eFibre service.

Minister White said he intended to publish a map in the coming weeks, which will show (a) the areas of planned commercial investment by 2016 and (b) the remaining areas, which will be the focus of the Government’s intervention. A public consultation be launched on the map, and on the technical standards that will apply to the State intervention. The Minister said that he intended to move to the procurement stage of the State’s intervention in 2015.