A partnership using some €450m of funding to roll-out FTTH to some 500,000 properties by 2018 has been given the go ahead by the European Commission.
The state owned ESB power company is to work with Vodafone (Vodafone was selected as a preferred partner via a competitive bid process) to roll-out FTTH with speeds of up to 1 Gbps to 50 towns in Ireland.
The roll-out is to make use of the existing overhead electricity network and ducting to carry fibre tubing, thus bypassing existing telephone infrastructure. While Vodafone is the preferred partner the network is to be an open access system, but the opportunity exists for Vodafone to greatly expand on its 200,000 fixed line broadband customers in Ireland.
In terms of footprint with around 1.6 million homes in Ireland this roll-out will cover perhaps one third, but the joint venture appears to be open to later phases to extend coverage if this initial spending shows promise.
Gigabit to one third of the country sounds very exciting and is bound to cause grumpy moans in the UK, but we should not forget the ambitious plans of firms like Hyperoptic and Gigaclear and that some 48% of the UK already has access to a Virgin Media up to 152 Mbps service.