Tomorrow’s network speeds today

eircom’s eFibre launch got me thinking about the ideal technologies: where reliability and performance are so good, they can routinely be taken for granted.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Herb Hribar, CEO of eircom launching eFibre Broadband from eircom

Thu, May 23rd, 08:25


As my neighbours drove away from their house recently, the two year old strapped in the backseat went from placid contentment to noisy complaint: the pacifying iPad had moved outside of the home WiFi reception.

They say – or at least Alan Kay did, see Kevin Kelly’s blog – that it’s not technology if it was invented before you were born. For many, that grumpy two year old included, lack of a ubiquitous internet connection is unacceptable. The expectation is that the internet will be there as an inalienable right, without fanfare and without an unearned expectation of applause for being merely fast and reliable. That’s progress.

Growing up in multichannel TV-land in the Pale, I had BBC’s Tomorrow’s World to keep me informed of the frontier of technology. Take a look at this list of what Tomorrow’s World correctly announced. It includes fibre optics, announced in terms of comparative mathematical estimates of scale of capacity – usually the number of simultaneous phone calls that could be supported. Exponential stats and TV still go hand in hand when it comes to network planning: take a look at the latest infographic that tells us 60 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute – a stat that is probably out-dated by the time it’s announced. By Kay’s definition, video streaming like YouTube, and the fibre optic underpinning it for that matter, is still ‘technology’ to my Generation X.

Technology: always there, always meeting demand

That Kevin Kelly blog also refers to Danny Hillis’s pointed definition of technology as ‘everything that doesn’t work yet’. By this definition, we stop thinking about technology when it reaches an optimal intangible state, always there, always meeting demand. This is a difficult definition for anyone investing to provide a service, which only becomes a topic in the mind of the customer when it breaks, but I think it’s a good one. We deal with this all the time in eircom Business. Customers expect service to be excellent, and while they are aware that technology and related processes and experts are required to deliver their business outcomes, it’s those outcomes they want, not a feat of quality network engineering.

Fibre optic networks: powering the next-generation of business

For the consumer, the ideal network will be as fast as the internal processing of their device of choice. For the business, the ideal network will flexibly support its business plan. Fibre optic networks, expanding closer to customer locations, are the underlying platform that can deliver this. As outlined in a previous blog fibre is critical for mobile services too, as the traffic needs to get from the shared and congested radio space – be it WiFi, 3G or 4G – to the more abundant uncongested speeds of the fibre network for services to scale.

eFibre is here – but where is it available?

So there is huge interest in eFibre.

It was great to hear a colleague who is testing eFibre describe how the PC was straining to keep up with the network. Speeds up to 70Mbps downstream and 30Mbps upstream, powered by ‘fibre to the cabinet’ and using in most cases the existing copper access, makes this an attractive service for the domestic consumer and for business, whether it’s for home working, branch offices, or shops. For more info on the cabinet technology, take a look at this.

If you are thinking “it’s about time too!” and are interested in when and where eFibre will be available, you can check out the eircom eFibre rollout plan here.

For Business and Government customers looking for private networks as opposed to internet, eFibre will become another cost-effective means of accessing eircom Business’s IP VPN service complementing the scalable symmetric services we already deliver at Gigabit speeds to support the most demanding ICT and Cloud services.

And if our fibre services won’t reach you, faster broadband services are on the way via mobile LTE (Long Term Evolution) later this year too.

Andy O’Kelly is Chief Architect at eircom and a speaker on IT solutions and innovation. Follow Andy on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn.

Andy O'Kelly

eircom Business Centre