Eircom to trial fibre-to-the-home speeds up to 150Mbps

16 Jun 2010

Up to 10,000 homes and businesses in Sandyford, Dublin, and Wexford town are set to experience fibre-to-the-home broadband with speeds up to 150Mbps possible, as part of a €20m trial by Eircom.

Eircom CEO Paul Donovan explained yesterday that the aim of the trial is to gather the facts for Eircom and other operators on exactly how much costs, materials and civil engineering goes into implementing fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband.

A national upgrade to FTTH, Donovan says, could cost anything between €1bn and €2.5bn as estimated by TIF.

Work is already under way on the €20m project with tenders issues to suppliers for a number of elements of the project.

The first customers will be connected to FTTH by spring 2011.

Open approach by Eircom

Donovan said the approach his company is taking is an open one and he and his colleagues have already presented their plans to industry rivals, inviting them to take part in the trial and identify the future bandwidth-hungry apps of the future.

“Today, 15pc of the internet’s traffic is video, this will approach 80pc by 2015,” Donovan said. “A lot of people right now are watching the World Cup on their PCs.

“We’ve decided that there’s been a lot of talk about next-generation access and we’ve decided to work with the industry to take a lead in making this investment, by making sure from day one we provide incentives for other operators to join us.

“The world will be consuming interesting bandwidth-hungry applications and we think it is vital that the pilot provides pointers for industry on how to invest in these networks.”

Donovan said there have been too many talking shops and reports and that now is the time to take concrete action. “I didn’t feel we could go another year talking about it. It’s time to get on with it. It is clear that FTTH will require significant investment. If we are going to build a network to the right scale, we really need to know how fibre-to-the-home is properly deployed.”

In the past two years, Eircom conducted technical trials of both FTTH and fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technologies. In January 2010, speeds of up to 24Mb were introduced for 500,000 customers using ADSL2+ technology.

In March, Eircom launched its Next Generation Broadband raising the entry level broadband to up to 8Mb for Eircom customers and offering improved broadband performance for up to 1 million customers.

These developments are supported by Eircom’s Next Generation Network, a digital motorway that provides high capacity bandwidth across the country, providing improved customer experience for high bandwidth activities such as downloading films, gaming and streaming video content. For business customers, it facilitates new trends, such as cloud computing applications.

These developments represent an investment by Eircom of more than €1bn over a three-year period in network infrastructure, including the construction of the Next Generation Network.

Ministerial welcome

Speaking from Japan, where he is meeting with broadband and ICT companies, the Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan TD said: “I very much welcome this announcement by Eircom, the latest in a line of significant developments in Ireland’s broadband story.

“My department’s National Broadband Scheme has cracked the availability issue and will deliver broadband to every area of Ireland this autumn – three years ahead of the EU target of 2013 and 10 years ahead of the USA’s target of 2020.

“The speed and quality of broadband has been firmly in my sights since I published my NGB policy paper last year. My policy, based on facilitating competition and providing investment certainty is now beginning to bear fruit, as far as speeds are concerned.

“Eircom’s announcement today is one of the most important developments in recent years and will result in huge bandwidth being provided to the trialled homes and businesses. This development, along with the rollout of 100Mbps capability by the cable operator, demonstrates the market’s appetite to respond to the demands for bigger bandwidth,” Ryan said.


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