The Irish Times reports that Irish former monopoly operator Eircom is throwing down the gauntlet to rivals, by announcing plans to spend EUR100 million (USD143.3 million) in a fibre-optic network capable of delivering faster broadband speeds to end users. Further, the telco aims to offer IPTV-based services via a set-top box that will put it in a head-to-head fight with cableco UPC Ireland and satellite TV provider BSkyB for the first time. Eircom’s announcement is part of a phased upgrade of its legacy copper-wire infrastructure as it looks to offer bundled voice, internet and TV services to its customers. The former monopoly aims to cover around 100,000 households by the summer of 2012 with the upgraded service, with the aim of boosting this to one million in the medium-term. Following the upgrade Eircom says it will be able to support broadband speeds of up to 150Mbps. Rival UPC’s top speed package is 100Mbps, and it says around 99% of its subscribers will be on a minimum 20Mbps connection by September this year. Eircom also plans to make the upgraded network available to rivals on a wholesale basis.