Ireland joins EU fibre broadband league table

Despite recent criticism, Ireland passes 1 per cent fibre penetration threshold

Plugged in: the Scandinavian/Baltic countries continue to lead the way in terms of the take-up of fibre broadband in Europe

Plugged in: the Scandinavian/Baltic countries continue to lead the way in terms of the take-up of fibre broadband in Europe

 

Despite criticism of the Government’s broadband strategy, Ireland has joined a select group of European countries that have a minimum 1 per cent of households subscribing to 100 per cent fibre broadband services.

In a report, published by Europe’s fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) council, Ireland was included in a list of 23 EU states that had passed the 1 per cent fibre penetration threshold.

Significantly, the UK, which has similar broadband issues to Ireland, failed to make the grade but is expected to be included in the council’s list next year.

While many consumers here are sold fibre broadband products, most services still rely on the old copper connections when it comes to the “last hop”from the street cabinet to the user’s home.

Depending on the state of the copper, this can slow or even disrupt internet connectivity.

According to the FTTH Council’s 2018 Market Panorama report, Ireland had 30,000 pure fibre connections or household FTTH subscribers, up from 20,000 in June, making it the fastest growing broadband segment of the market here.

“The Irish Government has played a tremendous role in expanding superfast broadband networks across all areas of Ireland, although in recent times the need for adjustment of the tools being used to promote deployment have emerged,” the report said.

Active investors

While acknowledging that Eir and ESB-Vodafone joint venture Siro’s recent exit from the Government’s National Broadband process, it said both companies were continuing their deployments of fibre access networks across the State and remain the most active investors in FTTH in Ireland, followed by Magnet Networks, Digiweb and Enet.

Siro, which is investing €450 million in a fibre network aimed at 50 regional towns in the Republic, attended the FTTH Council’s annual conference in Valencia, Spain last week, with chief executive Sean Atkinson taking part in a keynote operator-CEO panel, where he outlined the company’s fibre strategy in Ireland.

The Scandinavian/Baltic countries continue to lead the way in terms of the take-up of fibre broadband in Europe with Latvia, Sweden and Lithuania retaining the top three positions.

Pole position

Enet, the company in pole position to win the Government’s rural broadband tender following the recent exit of Eir, is planning to build a new fibre network to connect the 542,000 rural households and businesses earmarked for state-subsidised broadband under the scheme.

While the plan is to connect all the households to high-speed broadband, running fibre to the final 5 to 10 per cent of homes, located in the most remote parts, is likely to be too costly and some form of wireless broadband is expected to be used to services these households.