ESB, Vodafone Team for Irish FTTB Network

The big news in the story was that this network will be open access, but Lightwave glossed over that point.  Even though Vodafone will be one of the premiere service providers, other service providers can also lease capacity on the network infrastructure from ESB.  This model should be emulated in many other areas of the world to promote broadband competition.  It would reduce the chatter over net neutrality in the U.S. if we saw more open access broadband networks.

Lightwave Staff

ESB FTTH deploymentIrish power utility ESB has selected Vodafone as its partner on a €450 million project to deploy an open-accessfiber to the building (FTTB) network across Ireland. The fiber-optic network initially will reach 500,000 premises in 50 towns, leveraging ESB’s existing overhead and underground infrastructure.

The FTTB network will deliver download rates of 200 Mbps to 1 Gbps, the partners say. This will represent a significant upgrade for most subscribers, based on data from Irish telecommunications regulator ComReg that indicates 43% of fixed-line broadband users in Ireland receive speeds of less than 10 Mbps.

The project is subject to European Commission approval. Nevertheless, ESB and Vodafone hope to begin deployments “in the coming months,” with first customers receiving services at the start of next year. The first phase of the FTTB deployment should conclude by the end of 2018. This implies a second phase, for which the two companies did not provide details. The ESB/Vodafone joint venture will build and manage the network, offering access to it and its subscribers on a wholesale basis.

ESB chose Vodafone for the project based on a tender process launched in September 2012. Vodafone was named the preferred bidder for the project in September 2013, and the two companies have been negotiating ever since. The new joint venture company will have 60 employees, the partners say.

Vodafone already serves 200,000 fixed broadband customers in Ireland.

The Irish Government welcomed the joint venture’s creation. “The National Broadband Plan underlines Government’s commitment to delivering high-speed broadband services to rural Ireland, with fiber as a core element. Complementing Government investment in rural areas, will be commercial investment in more densely populated areas, offering competitive high speed services over multiple technology platforms. Today’s announcement by ESB and Vodafone to create a joint venture company to deliver up to one gigabit of broadband speeds in 50 locations nationwide is a very exciting step in ensuring that regional towns can enjoy similar levels of connectivity to our cities, benefiting local business and helping to attract investment,” said Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte.

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About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry's first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
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