In the UK, the countdown to the general elections has begun. Entering the debate for the first time is the digital economy and broadband connectivity. In Ireland in the next year, a key election issue could be broadband.
Dublin: 31.03.2015 04.27PM
Eircom CEO Herb Hribar
Eircom CEO Herb Hribar has revealed that the fibre-connected street cabinets that will enable 1.2m homes and businesses in Ireland to get 50Mbps to 70Mbps broadband by 2014 have been future proofed to enable fibre-to-the-home (FTTH). If economic conditions ever allow, FTTH could potentially see speeds of between 100Mbps and 200Mbps available in many homes across the country.
Eircom is currently rolling out next generation broadband systems that will bring fibre as far as the street with existing copper lines carrying the higher speed data into the home or business via what’s known as VDSL.
Hribar explained that at this point some 230,000 homes have been passed in this way and that 300,000 homes will be passed when the new generation of broadband services launches in May.
The plan is to have 1m homes passed by the end of 2014 and Eircom this morning revealed that it is extending its coverage to 1.2m homes.
Around the same time that Eircom will launch its next generation fibre services the company will launch its first 4G services.
Hribar previously told Siliconrepublic.com Eircom is planning to launch quad-play services and today he revealed that the company will begin trialling TV services in June and will launch TV services at the latest by September.
In recent weeks, the FTTH council warned that Europe could miss out economically if it fails to deploy broadband beyond street level and into the premises. Sending fibre direct into a building potentially doubles or quadruples the speeds and FTTH Council director general Hartwig Tauber said that European consumers will be requiring download speeds of 170Mbps by 2020, well beyond the 100Mbps target set down by the EU’s Digital Agenda.
I put it to Hribar that surely there must be an intention to go beyond fibre to the street cabinet.
“We’ve architected our network to actually go FTTH. Where we’ve built the cabinets we’ve got enough fibre to serve not only the cabinet but push it out further to premises.”
Hribar said that at present the economics don’t add up.
Installing fibre to every home in Ireland would be an investment that could amount to billions of euros.
“I’m sure that Ireland will one day enjoy FTTH across a large part of the country, but it could take a long time to get there but we’re building our network in anticipation of evolving it to that point.
“This is not a single fibre but multiple fibres and the splice points are in the cabinet that we can pick up and push fibre all the way out to the distribution points and we then have the capability of bringing fibre to the home,” Hribar said.