UPC is building a 120Mbps next-gen broadband network

30 Apr 2009

Cable broadband player UPC Ireland is planning to introduce 120Mbps broadband in the coming year under a project codenamed Fibre Power.

UPC CEO Robert Dunn (pictured) revealed the plan at a Dublin conference, and said the company’s next-generation network (NGN) is being built.

“We are building an NGN and launching NGN services – one product we’re working on is called Fibre Power, which will offer ultra-fast speeds of up to 120Mbps,” Dunn told a Dublin Chamber of Commerce breakfast briefing this week.

“Through our network investment programme, we’re bringing fibre closer to the customer to ensure that no matter what bandwidth demand we see, we are confident we will have the network to meet it,” he said.

UPC’s plans for 120Mbps were confirmed in an interview with Gavan Smyth, business service director with UPC Business, who explained that UPC is investing €90m this year in upgrading its network.

This investment, he said, will pave the way for a move to the DOCSIS 3.0 cable platform.

Smyth said the intention is to have the 120Mbps offering in place by the middle of 2010.

“This is just one part of the direction we are headed in. Services such as offline storage, disaster recovery and storage area networks will be vital, and we can head in the direction of other cutting-edge services like enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to deepen what we can offer businesses.

“2010 will see videoconferencing and sophisticated software offerings become more reachable for SMEs, and UPC with 120Mbps speeds will be in the vanguard,” Smyth said.

In his address to the Chamber of Commerce briefing, Dunn enigmatically suggested that rather than the Irish Government buying Eircom and putting more burden on the taxpayer, the incumbent’s best home “is probably shepherded into a larger pan-European telco, which can provide the relevant support from a technology and investment perspective that Eircom needs.”

Dunn also broached the subject of wireless networks and platform competition. “Where do I see future and competing platforms entering our market? The buzzword that is circulating is LTE – also known as long term evolution.

“LTE meets the requirements of NGNs and is deemed to be next step in mobile radio communications.  It’s still in its infancy and has not been ratified as a standard service, but it is developing. I personally see it as a fusion of fixed and mobile networks.

“Am I talking my company out of existence – certainly not – we aim to be part of this future technology and infrastructures evolution, whether it’s coming down the line or through the airwaves. There’s room for everyone, and at the end of the day this will deliver more choice and introduce more competition into the marketplace.”

Dunn said building and nurturing a world-class infrastructure is essential for the development of a smart economy for businesses and individuals.

“Being part of Liberty Global, the largest cable company outside the US, gives us fibre power to deliver engineering excellence through our operations worldwide, and global buying power of equipment that allows us to keep the price down on customer equipment and pass those benefits onto the consumer – I call this the power of the firm.

“Investment is critical in delivering true platform competition, improving product performance and improving service to the customer. Investments in broadband infrastructure are fundamental, if we are to succeed in propelling Ireland into a knowledge-based economy.”

Dunn concluded: “UPC’s philosophy is simple – this amazing but often complex digital world should be for everyone. We’re not the finished article, but we promise there’s more to come!”

By John Kennedy

Pictured: UPC CEO, Robert Dunn

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years