Eircom broadband enables 24 local exchanges

30 Sep 2008

Incumbent telecoms operator Eircom this morning revealed that it has rolled out broadband to 24 additional communities across Ireland. Beyond DSL, Eircom is planning to increase broadband rollout in the years ahead through its HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) investment via its mobile arm Meteor.

The exchanges encompass towns in Cork, Donegal, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Mayo, Meath, Offaly, Roscommon, Tipperary, Westmeath and Wexford.

“Eircom is 100pc committed to making broadband available to as many parts of the country as we can,” said Rex Comb, Eircom CEO.

Speaking with siliconrepublic.com in recent weeks, Eircom’s corporate strategy director Peter O’Connell said that even though the company is committed to broadband-enabling 90pc of the country, economies of scale still make the rollout of broadband unfeasible in many parts of Ireland.

He said that for a typical exchange to be viable, it would require 5,000 lines connected to it ,and the optimum would be 10,000 lines. Instead, only 40 out of over 1,000 exchanges in Ireland have 10,000 lines apiece, and 78 exchanges over 5,000. “In the entire area of Munster, there are only five exchanges that have over 5,000 lines.”

A €500m Fibre Ireland plan that would have seen 70pc of the country provided with 25Mbps ADSL was rejected by the Irish Government.

O’Connell said that the window of opportunity for this investment has now closed and that instead the company intends to continue to invest in its core network, roll out VDSL where it makes sense, as well as sticking to its DSL plans.

He added that Eircom now sees scope for considerable growth via its mobile arm Meteor’s 3G rollout, and said that reports of Eircom considering selling Meteor were incorrect and unfounded.

“Meteor is absolutely integral to Eircom’s future,” he explained “The world has changed dramatically through mobile broadband. We have a 3G licence and we are building out a 3G network that in a month will reach 33pc of the population, and by the end of the year 53pc of the population.

“We’re putting in Ericsson equipment with dual nodes, which will give us the highest speeds and move from HSDPA to a technology called HSDPA Evolved, which gets you 20Mbps countrywide. The Meteor network will be the most advanced in Ireland when it launches.

“We’ll have an advanced core and an advanced 3G network. If the market proves competitive enough, we could get VDSL to 40pc of cabinets within the next three years,” O’Connell said.

The newly enabled exchanges include Foxhole in Cork, Malin in Donegal, Brannockstown in Kildare, Cuffesgrange and Knocktopher in Kilkenny, Kinlough in Leitrim, Ayle, Ballyglass, Murrisk, Newport and Partree in Mayo, Carnaross, Clonmellon, Crossakiel, Drumconrath and Kildalkey in Meath, Kileigh in Offally, Croghan, Fourmilehouse and Kiltoom in Roscommon, Ballinderry in Tipperary, Collinstown, Crookedwood and Drinagh IDA Park in Wexford.

Peter O’Connell will be one of the key speakers at the upcoming TIF Conference at Dublin Castle on 21 October.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Peter O’Connell, Eircom’s corporate strategy director

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