With demand growing for high-speed broadband, the Irish teleco is ramping up its gigabit fibre network roll-out.
Eir has today (11 August) announced plans to expand its gigabit fibre network roll-out to include a further 200,000 homes and businesses across the country.
As part of a €1bn five-year capital investment programme launched in 2018, Eir planned to invest €500m in a fibre network expansion in Ireland. In April of this year, the telco said its gigabit fibre network was available in 79 Irish towns and villages.
Today’s announcement will bring the number of homes and businesses with access to gigabit fibre to 1.9m or 84pc of premises in the country.
“Our purpose is, and always will be, to connect for a better Ireland and we do this by building world-class fibre networks as we understand that high-speed broadband has become absolutely essential to support the way we work, live, do business, socialise and connect,” said Eavann Murphy, managing director of Open Eir wholesale.
Eir noted that the pandemic had accelerated the need for greater bandwidth and reliable connectivity, and that the average home now requires more from broadband as people continue to work, study and socialise from home.
“We continuously monitor the connection rates of our fibre network and we have seen connections to our rural network more than double in the last 18 months, signifying the increased requirements for high speed connectivity of homes and businesses in Ireland,” Murphy added.
“The pandemic has transformed our needs and what was sufficient for the average family home before is no longer adequate.”
Earlier in the year, Eir admitted it had “underestimated” its customer care challenges, which were heightened during the pandemic.
However, the company has repeatedly said that the roll-out of its network has continued at pace, despite Covid-19 restrictions. Eir’s 5G network footprint also increased in the past year, with around 270 towns and cities served as of April.
Murphy said Eir is “actively supporting” the Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP), which is set to serve rural areas where commercial operators do not currently provide high-speed connectivity.
The multibillion-euro NBP aims to connect more than 1.1m people across 544,000 homes, businesses, farms and schools in Ireland. The first premises was connected to the network at the start of this year, but the roll-out has faced delays.
“Open Eir’s broadband network, combined with the NBP, will mean Ireland will have a ubiquitous gigabit fibre network, making this one of the most connected countries in the world,” Murphy added.
“The upgrade of all premises, both homes and businesses, to a gigabit fibre connection will enable customers to live and work anywhere they choose in Ireland, while being connected with high-speed fibre – an absolute essential.”