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Vodafone Links With ESB For Broadband

Plans for a new broadband network that promises speeds of between 200Mbps and 1,000Mbps have been announced by ESB and Vodafone. The two firms are partnering up for the proposed €450m investment, which involves providing end-to-end fibre optic connections for faster download speeds.

The network rollout will use ESB's existing electricity infrastructure on a nationwide basis to deploy fibre directly into homes and businesses – Ireland being the first country in Europe to deploy such means. An initial tranche of 50 towns will pilot the technology, which uses ESB's existing overhead and underground infrastructure.

Subject to European Commission approval, ESB and Vodafone say that the 50:50 venture will see the network begin rolling out in the coming months. The first customers are expected to be able to avail of the service from the start of 2015, while the initial phase of the project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015.

In an increasingly cloggy telecoms market, ESB and Vodafone say that their venture will offer access to all telecoms operators in Ireland on a wholesale basis. Pat O'Doherty, chief executive of ESB, says that the proposed network would be a key enabler for a knowledge-based, services-led economy. “Over the last ten years, ESB has invested over €6bn in its electricity network infrastructure nationally … thus enabling the delivery of this new fibre broadband network.”

ESB began tendering for a project partner in 2012, with Vodafone emerging as the preferred bidder late last year. If approved, a new joint-venture company will be formed for the project, employing around 60 people. (July 2014)

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