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The 15,000 residents of Carrigaline in County Cork will be the first to receive access to Vodafone’s first 1Gbps consumer broadband service in Ireland, which has just been launched.
The service forms part of the Siro joint venture between Vodafone and the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) – the Irish state electricity supplier – to provide fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connections using ESB’s overground and underground infrastructure to replace the copper last mile.
Siro, which is backed to the tune of €450m (£317m), aims to pass small towns of more than 4,000 properties and will expand across Ireland by 2018, touching 500,000 homes and businesses. It is the first project in Europe to use electricity infrastructure to bring ultrafast broadband closer to the consumer.
Carrigaline, a commuter town near Cork, will be the first of 51 towns to get Siro, offering speeds of up to 1Gbps, many times faster than the current Irish average of around 30Mbps.
“The successful economies of the future will be gigabit societies with ultrafast fibre-optic connections available everywhere,” said Vodafone Group public policy director Markus Reinisch.
“Vodafone is playing its part in realising that objective: We have demonstrated that we invest in FTTP when conditions allow us to do so, working together with other forward-looking companies to build the ultrafast digital infrastructure that Europe needs.”
At the same time, Vodafone announced a major expansion of its FTTP network in Portugal, adding 2.75 million homes to the roll-out by the end of 2016 at a cost of €125m. It has already passed 2.2 million premises in the country, and is also planning similar network builds in Spain and Italy – the Italian network in collaboration with electricity supplier Enel.
In the UK, the mobile operator re-entered the consumer broadband market earlier in 2015, backed by network assets that it acquired from Cable & Wireless.
However, Vodafone Connect, which is available to 22 million properties, is not a full FTTP service and only provides a top-end superfast service of 76Mbps, a far cry from what it is making available overseas.