Open Eir’s Carolan Lennon: ‘No one else is rolling out rural fibre right now’

14 Dec 201672 Shares

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The managing director of Open Eir, Carolan Lennon. Image: Luke Maxwell

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The managing director of Eir’s wholesale arm Open Eir, Carolan Lennon, has pointed out that when it comes to rolling out fibre in rural areas, Eir is currently the only telco deploying 1Gbps fibre.

In an interview with Siliconrepublic.com, Lennon rejected the idea that Eir is competing with Siro – the €450m Vodafone and ESB joint venture – on fibre roll-out in rural areas outside towns and villages, because Siro is concentrating on urban areas where Eir already has services.

She explained that a realignment within Eir that saw her become managing director of Open Eir was calculated to streamline resources, and be more efficient and responsive on the wholesale front.

“For example, there used to be a contact centre on the networks side and one on the wholesale side. We realised that we own this end-to-end and to simplify things, rather than things getting lost in handovers, get rid of those and deliver a better experience for [wholesale] customers.”

Talking about a revolution

Eir has a target to reach 1.6m homes and businesses with fibre-based broadband services by the end of this year, and reach 1.9m home and businesses with fibre by 2020.

Some 300,000 of these homes and businesses, mostly in rural areas, will receive 1Gbps fibre-to-the-home services. The first 100,000 will be passed by March 2017.

Eir – which is one of three shortlisted for the National Broadband Plan, the Government’s broadband intervention plan – said it will still achieve its target, regardless of whether is successful as a bidder. The National Broadband Plan is an EU-backed plan that aims to connect over 900,000 rural homes (1.8m people) without broadband services with a minimum of 30Mbps.

Lennon said that in deploying fibre to rural areas, the company has learnt new efficiencies and skills, and is picking up pace.

“We need to be delivering 35,000 a quarter and we are ramping up to that, but it is a huge job.

“The big point is that no one else is doing that.

“Our rural roll-out is costing €200m. Nobody else is spending a euro on rolling fibre out into rural Ireland,” Lennon said.

“Everybody else is waiting for that government subsidy that comes with the NBP.

“We said that we are not waiting.”

Lennon said that the homes and businesses that get access to 1Gbps fibre services will leapfrog the rest of Ireland and potentially Europe, when it comes to broadband quality.

“You are talking about the Dingle Peninsula and other places that no one would have thought it would be possible to reach. That is a revolution.”

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com