Fibre to the Building (FTTB) – Power to the People

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The third and final animation in the IIEA’s/ESB ‘Power to the People’ series focuses on the arrival of end-to-end fibre optic broadband in Ireland. You can view the blog here

In July 2014, ESB and Vodafone announced a joint venture which would utilise the existing electricity infrastructure to deliver 100 per cent fibre broadband to up to 500,000 homes and businesses throughout Ireland. The delivery of fibre optic cables directly to the building (FTTB) means that many Irish users, particularly outside of Dublin, who had previously lacked high-speed connections will now have access to speeds from 200-1000 Mbps.

This project is unique in that it utilises the overhead and underground electricity network in order to reach towns and villages in the 26 counties of Ireland. Delivering fibre optic broadband is often considered prohibitively expensive, particularly for the so-called ‘last mile’ into the building, but the use of existing infrastructure enables the fast and cost-effective rollout of the most modern broadband technology.

According to Minster for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White, the initiative is ‘an important project which complements the Government’s National Broadband Plan to ensure that all of Ireland’s regions have access to fast broadband.’ By using the existing reach of ESB’s infrastructure throughout Ireland, it is hoped that this new project will begin to bridge the ‘digital divide’ between the capital and the rest of the country.

As smartphones, social networks and e-commerce increasingly penetrate daily life, fast and reliable broadband is vital for Ireland’s future. Chief Executive of Vodafone Ireland, Anne O’Leary, noted: ‘With the number of devices per household anticipated to almost double over the next four years and more bandwidth hungry services being developed, this new broadband service will enable a whole range of new services to be offered to Irish customers’.

Faster broadband will help small and medium sized businesses to remain visible and competitive, ensure that students have access to the latest online materials and enable consumers to access entertainment from their homes. Pat O’Doherty, Chief Executive of ESB, stated that: ‘The fibre-to-the-building broadband network will be the most significant development in Ireland’s broadband sector to date and will be a real boost for regional Ireland and the economy as a whole’.

The rollout of the network is expected to start in early 2015 and will cost €400 million. Phase one will last until 2018 and is likely to focus on urban and semi-urban areas outside of Dublin, with the possibility of a second phase to follow. The project was announced in July and received full approval from the European Commission in October. The joint venture between ESB and Vodafone will build and manage the network but open access will be offered to other operators on a wholesale basis.

Link to all 3 videos of the “Power to the People” series.

Fibre to the Building (FTTB) – Power to the People

Publication link