Vodafone logo on a white banner background

ESB and Vodafone announce €450m partnership deal to build new fibre broadband network

ESB and Vodafone joint venture could see regional broadband speeds in Ireland leapfrog the speeds recorded in urban areas

Today, ESB and Vodafone have announced a new partnership which will see the two companies work together to develop a new fibre broadband wholesale network in Ireland.

The new 50:50 joint venture will look to invest €450 million on a new 100% fibre-to-the-building broadband network capable of delivering broadband download speeds between 200Mbps and 1000Mbps.

ESB and Vodafone plan to begin rolling-out the new fibre network in the next few months with customers in some locations expected to be able to avail of the service from January 2015.

Broadband in regional towns

Together, ESB and Vodafone are aiming to, complete the full roll-out of the network to a total of 50 locations, serving approximately 500,000 homes and businesses in 26 counties.

ESB and Vodafone are promising to build a network capable of delivering broadband speeds that are even faster than the levels currently available in the home broadband market in Ireland.

Consumers and businesses residing in many regional areas will benefit from access to super-fast broadband speeds when the  rollout of the new network commences.

Many of the locations in regional areas that ESB and Vodafone plan to reach are currently not served by other fibre broadband providers such as eircom and UPC at present. However this will almost certainly change over the course of the next few months and years as eircom and UPC continue to invest further in expanding their networks nationwide.

eircom and UPC use a combination of fibre and copper cables to deliver their fibre broadband services, while the new fibre network from ESB and Vodafone will provide 100% fibre, which can transmit data faster and over a greater distances than copper.

The new 100% fibre-to-the-building network will aim to deliver broadband download speeds between 200Mbps and 1000Mbps, which represents a significant increase in speed when compared to current speeds available with eircom and UPC’ - up to 100Mbps and up to 200Mbps respectively.

SIRO fibre network from ESB and Vodafone map of Ireland and rollout to towns

The first in Europe

By building this new 100% fibre-to-the-building network, ESB and Vodafone will make Ireland the first country in Europe to use their existing electricity infrastructure to deliver fibre broadband directly to homes and businesses on a national basis.

Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Commissions, Energy and Natural Resources, described the venture as part of the Irish Government’s “commitment to delivering high-speed broadband services to rural Ireland”; emphasising how the all-fibre rollout will increase broadband access in more remote regions.

He also explained that the venture could have wider implications for the world as a whole, calling Ireland a “front runner” when it came to addressing the “high speed broadband deficit which almost all developed countries face”.

Starting out

To begin with, a total of 500,000 buildings across 50 towns will be targeted with consumers and businesses expected to benefit from the super-fast speeds by the beginning of 2015.

Although the venture still needs approval from the European Commission (EC), the first phase could be fully established by 2018, with a second phase potentially initiated thereafter.

According to a recent ComReg report, more than two-fifths (43%) of Irish customers with fixed broadband receive speeds of less than 10Mbps. This gives them plenty to gain, with the possibility accessing speeds between 200Mbps and 1000Mbps; especially as global internet traffic is expected to increase three-fold over the next five years.

Pat O’Doherty, ESB’s Chief Executive, called the venture “a major milestone for Ireland” and emphasised the role it would play in enabling a “knowledge-based, services-led economy that will help to attract investment to Ireland”.

These sentiments were also echoed by Vodafone Ireland’s CEO Anne O’Leary who claimed the project would “bring the best broadband to Ireland” and “[make] a hyper-connected future a reality for hundreds of thousands of Irish people and businesses”.

Commenting on the €450 million ESB/Vodafone Fibre Broadband Network Eoin Clarke, Head of uSwitch.ie said: “Utilising our electricity supply infrastructure to provide high-speed broadband access is a European first and could see regional broadband speeds in Ireland leapfrog the speeds recorded in urban areas.

“The launch of a new high-speed wholesale network will result in increased competition which will benefit households in Ireland many of which are managing very tight budgets while still wanting to access essential services. The rollout of the new network begins early January 2015 with residents of Cavan town set to gain access first. The new partnership has promised to deliver 100% fibre-to-building broadband to 500,000 homes and businesses in 50 towns by 2018.

“The reality of living in fibre-hoods instead of neighbourhoods is not too far away.”

Compare the latest home broadband deals from Vodafone.