What SIRO can do for you

A joint venture between the ESB and Vodafone was recently launched, promising broadband upload and download speeds of up to 1,000Mbps in Ireland. Currently the fastest speed available is 360Mb. In October of 2014 the European Commission approved the plans for both the ESB and Vodafone to invest €450 million into a 100% fibre network in Ireland - the first of its kind. This new venture is called SIRO, and it will dramatically change the broadband landscape.

What is SIRO?

SIRO is a new fibre broadband network that will run fibre along the existing overhead and underground infrastructure of the ESB power lines. This fibre will run directly into homes and businesses all over the country. SIRO is a custom built 100% fibre optic service powered by light, making it different to any other broadband infrastructure in Ireland, with no copper connection at any point in the network. Because there are no copper phone lines used, the speeds offered are very high - 1,000Mbps. That’s roughly four times faster than Virgin Media’s 240Mb fibre broadband, and ten times faster than eir’s eFibre service.

Where is it available?

When SIRO was launched, so were 10 gigabit launch towns, or ‘fibrehoods’. These towns are Cavan, Dundalk, Westport, Castlebar, Sligo, Carrigaline, Tralee, Navan, Letterkenny and Wexford. The service was trialled in 300 households and businesses in Cavan since last Autumn. The first phase of the project, consisting of 50 towns, is expected to be fully completed by the end of 2018. A second phase plan is in place for the service to reach a further 300 towns. SIRO is targeting centres of population away from larger cities, which already have high speed broadband access.

When can I get it?

25,000 premises located in the 10 ‘fibrehoods’ will have access to SIRO by the end of 2015. Another 40 large regional towns should have access by the end of 2018. After that, SIRO says it will target 500,000 premises in another 300 smaller towns. SIRO is targeting large regional towns and will only roll out to communities with at least 4,000 homes or businesses.

How much will it cost?

SIRO will not be offering the network as a retail product, meaning consumers won’t buy the service directly from them. SIRO will be available to all telecoms operators in Ireland, such as Virgin Media or Vodafone, to resell to their customers. There has been no official announcement on the cost of SIRO for the consumer, but industry experts are estimating a price point between €40 and €90 per month, depending on the package you get.

Why is SIRO not available in large cities?

Speeds of up to 360Mb are available in cities right now thanks to Virgin Media, so SIRO is only launching in places that don’t have Virgin Media.

I live in rural Ireland, will I have access to SIRO?

Unfortunately people in rural Ireland will have to wait for the government’s National Broadband Plan. This plan will eventually see every house and business in Ireland with access to high-speed broadband by the end of 2021. The construction of this rural fibre network will begin in 2016 and should take between three and five years to be completed. Both eir and SIRO say that they will bid for the National Broadband Plan’s tender once it becomes available later this year.