The Irish Independent writes that SIRO, a joint venture between utility firm ESB and Vodafone which aims to deliver a 100% fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) broadband network in Ireland with speeds of up to 1Gbps, has announced its latest EUR40 million (USD44.6 million) rollout plan to take in another six towns across the country. SIRO has already deployed FTTB coverage to 50 towns nationwide and will now augment this with deployments in Mullingar, Newbridge, Ennis, Portlaoise, Drogheda and Carlow. Further, the service provider notes that as a result of the latest initiative, services will either be live or under construction in 17 urban areas by end-2016, namely: Dundalk, Cavan, Carrigaline, Sligo, Letterkenny, Tralee, Wexford, Drogheda, Westport, Castlebar, Mullinga, Portlaoise, Newbridge, Ennis, Ratheniska, Carlow and Skibbereen.
The joint venture’s CEO Sean Atkinson commented on what he terms the ‘fantastic response’ since it was launched in ten towns in May last year, adding: ‘We have plans for a second phase which covers over 300 smaller towns and we are shortlisted for the government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) which aims to deliver high speed access to all citizens by 2020.’ As part of the venture the broadband network runs along ESB’s electricity wires, both overhead and underground. SIRO values its network at EUR450 million, with the technology delivering broadband copper-free, which it notes has a tendency to limit connection speeds.
SIRO’s announcement comes hard on the heels of the news that former monopoly operator eir has been given a boost in its bid to secure Ireland’s NBP, after the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) confirmed its backing for the telco’s bid, which is designed to provide nearly a million business premises and homes with broadband via a mixture of public and private investment. Although eir faces competition from the likes of Enet and SIRO, the IFA has gone on record as saying that the incumbent has already demonstrated its commitment to rural Ireland and has a proven track record in this area.