Eir is to accelerate the rollout of high-speed internet across the State by about 50,000 more families and businesses per year after establishing a joint venture partnership for its wholesale fibre broadband network with InfraVia.
Investment provided by this joint venture will allow Eir to increase the pace of expansion of its fibre broadband network. It estimates that 200,000 homes will be passed in 2022, increasing to 250,000 homes in 2023.
Eir said the acceleration in network rollout will allow about 50,000 more families and businesses to gain access to high-speed internet per year than initially anticipated.
Fibre broadband use in the State has grown rapidly in recent years and Eir now aims to pass 1.9 million premises by the end of 2026. In combination with the National Broadband Plan, this would provide the Republic, with more than 90 per cent coverage of all premises at the conclusion of both projects.
The deal will see a new subsidiary of Eir formed, named Fibre Networks Ireland, which will allow InfraVia to take a 49 per cent share in Eir’s network.
Fibre Networks Ireland will provide passive broadband access exclusively to Eir’s wholesale arm, Open Eir, which in turn will continue to supply wholesale broadband, voice, and other services to its customers including Eir and other major telecoms companies.
InfraVia is an independent private equity firm specialising in infrastructure and technology investments. It recently formed a joint venture with Liberty Global to roll out fibre-to-the-home networks in Germany.
The company has also provided investment to French wholesale and open-access telecom operator ADTiM and has partnered with Iliad in France to establish IFT, a vehicle that provides investment in fibre-to-the-home coverage in medium- and low-density areas.
“This expertise will contribute significantly to the enhanced rollout of Eir’s high-speed internet network in Ireland,” Eir said.
Through Fibre Networks Ireland, Eir, together with InfraVia, will continue to provide fibre rollout, maintenance, delivery, and other services for the Eir network.
Eir chief financial officer Stephen Tighe said the establishment of Fibre Networks Ireland "provides a vehicle for further investment in our already extensive network".
“Through this exciting partnership with InfraVia we can improve our ability to connect customers faster than ever before and ensure that more homes in Ireland can access the high-speed internet that has become an increasingly important part of how we live our lives,” he said.
Bruno Candès, partner at InfraVia Capital Partners, said: “We are very pleased to partner with Eir and its shareholders in building out a high quality, national FTTH network that will provide next generation connectivity across Ireland.
“Fibre internet access is a critical service that enables an inclusive digital transformation, and we are proud to support this transition in the Republic of Ireland.
“This investment builds on our existing track record in Ireland and our deep communications infrastructure experience across Europe. We look forward to working with Eir in this partnership in the years ahead.”