Eircom broadband upgrade gives 85pc coverage

5 Apr 2006

Eircom has upgraded 30 additional telephone exchanges for broadband and has called on the Government to help in rolling out broadband to the remaining 15pc of phone lines in the State that cannot get access to it.

In total, 435 exchanges around the country are now enabled for ADSL, with speeds ranging from 512Kbps up to a maximum of 5Mbps in some cases. Some 700 exchanges remain to be upgraded but a spokesman for Eircom pointed out that these cover just 15pc of the total telephone lines.

“We would like the rest to be wrapped up in a tender with the Government. That’s what they did in Northern Ireland [which has 100pc broadband coverage]. The [remaining] exchanges are too small to be commercially viable,” the spokesman told siliconrepublic.com.

“We’ve been discussing this with the Government and they’ve known for a while that this is what we want to do,” the spokesman added. Such an investment could cost an estimated €60m and it would mean that full broadband availability would happen “a lot quicker than doing it one by one through the Group Broadband Scheme”.

Eircom also released figures which claim to show that its level of investment in the telecoms network, at €200m per year, is above the average of its European peers.

Other operators will be able to provide services to their customers through the broadband-enabled exchanges but the spokesman emphasised that this would be on a bitstream basis — reselling Eircom’s wholesale services — as opposed to full local loop unbundling.

According to Eircom, every town in Ireland with a population of more than 1,500 can now get access to broadband. The 30 exchanges are spread across 13 different counties. They are, in full: Ballyjamesduff in Cavan; Casltetownbere, Durrus, Killeagh and Pedlar’s Cross in Cork; Annagry, Ardara, Clonmany and Glenties in Donegal; Beaufort and Farranfore in Kerry; Bennettsbridge in Kilkenny; Stradbally in Laois; Termonfeckin (Louth); Achill Sound, Ballyhaunis, Bunnacurry, Kiltemagh and Knock (Mayo); Knockcrocghery (Roscommon); Bansha (Tipperary); Kilmacthomas and Kilmeaden in Waterford; Castlebellingham and Kilbeggan in Westmeath; Powerscourt in Wicklow and Ballygarret, Inch, Rosslare Strand and Wellington Bridge in Wexford.

By Gordon Smith