eircom has hatched plans to offer a 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service to 66 communities, a direct response to Vodafone's move to offer a similar service in Ireland with its electric utility partner ESB.
The European Commission (EC) has approved the fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) investment agreement signed in July 2014 between Vodafone Group and ESB. During the first phase of their project, ESB and Vodafone plan to connect 500,00 premises in 50 towns with broadband speeds ranging from 200 Mbps up to 1 Gbps.
Immediately following the announcement of the EC's approval of that project, eircom said it is pursuing its vision for 1 Gbps, which represents a new direction for the company. The service provider had initially advocated a hybrid fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) network leveraging a mix of VDSL2 and vectoring to deliver 100 Mbps services over the remaining copper links to each customer premises.
"Today demonstrates the flexibility and scalability of our future-proofed fibre network," said Richard Moat, acting CEO for eircom, in a release. "Building on our existing network design, end to end fibre connectivity supporting speeds of one gigabit, is the natural next step in the evolution of our network capability."
The service provider said it will continue to build out the FTTN-based network as planned. In September, the service provider announced that it passed 1 million premises with its fiber network, with plans to reach 1.6 million homes and businesses by the middle of 2016, six months ahead of schedule.
Already, the service provider has told Ireland telecom regulator ComReg about its plans and says work will begin next month in three locations--Cavan, Kilkenny and Letterkenny. During the second phase of the buildout, the service provider will roll out FTTH to Ireland's five largest cities (Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford), major regional centers and every county town.
Building FTTH to each of these locations is set to take about six months. Similar to the FTTN network, competitive providers will be able to also access the FTTH network as a wholesale service to deliver services to their customer bases.
In addition, eircom has begun a separate FTTH trial to better understand the most cost-effective solution to roll out high speed broadband in rural parts of Ireland. Set to go live early next year, the trial will take place in Belcarra, Mayo. eircom has already tested and deployed FTTH technology in both an urban and suburban environments in Wexford Town and Sandyford, Co Dublin.
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