‘Rural towns in Ireland will outstrip the capital in terms of broadband speeds’ – ESB

24 Oct 20142 Shares

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Paul Hickey, manager, systems and sustainability, ESB Networks, addresses the audience at the Innovation Ireland Forum in Dublin. Photo by Robbie Reynolds

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The ESB has just concluded the first trials of the fibre broadband network it is building as part of a joint venture with Vodafone, the ESB’s Paul Hickey told this morning’s Innovation Ireland Forum in Dublin.

In July, ESB and Vodafone announced a €450m deal for the mobile operator to use ESB’s electricity cables to bring broadband to rural areas across Ireland.

The joint venture aims to bring broadband speeds of 200Mbps up as high as 1,000Mbps through a fibre-to-building network in an attempt to make Ireland home of one of the fastest networks in the world.

The plan will make Ireland the first country in Europe to use the existing electricity infrastructure to deliver broadband. Initially, 50 towns across Ireland are to receive the service, providing for more than 500,000 homes.

Speaking today at the Innovation Ireland Forum, Hickey, manager, systems and sustainability, ESB Networks, said, “We will be using our electricity infrastructure in such a way that we have made it possible to flow a fibre wire through the ducts in housing estates.

“This means the last leg of the connection will be right into the home.

“We have just concluded trials in Cavan. We were packing up to leave when a guy ran out of his house and told us that he had just downloaded an entire movie in 15 seconds.

“It will soon be the case that rural towns in Ireland will start outstripping the capital in terms of speeds.”

Electrified by the internet of things

Hickey was taking part in an internet of things panel discussion and he said ESB’s electricity network has many of the components of what you could already call the internet of things.

“We have 2.2m customers and the big measure is continuity of supply. We are undergoing a big technology revolution in the electricity industry and it is possible to deploy that technology far down into the distribution network.”

The internet of things came to the rescue in a very real way during the storms in February of this year.

“Some 10m trees fell during the big storm that saw 200,000 homes lose their electricity supply. We used the technology in our network to remotely restore 100,000 homes within the first 24 hours by remotely turning on switches,” Hickey said.

Please note: This article was updated to reflect an error. It previously read that the trials were taking place in Navan. In fact they are taking place in Cavan.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com