Third of Irish homes, businesses now connectable to fibre broadband

Figures from Eir and Siro reveal big increase in availability of high-speed broadband

Nearly 40 per cent of customers are now taking packages of 100mbps, says Siro’s chief executive

Nearly 40 per cent of customers are now taking packages of 100mbps, says Siro’s chief executive

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Rival telcos Eir and Siro say they have passed 700,000-800,000 premises with fibre broadband, equating to more than a third of homes and businesses in the State. This figure is up from just 20,000 four years ago between the two companies.

While rural broadband remains a problem, billions of euro of investment is being poured into urban and regional broadband, where the potential returns for investors is greater.

Eir claims its fibre network is now within reach of 501,000 premises across the State, while Siro says its network, which is more concentrated in regional towns, covers 335,000 premises.

There is, however, some overlap between the two networks, hence the total premises covered is said to be less than 800,000.

The figures come as the latest data from regulator ComReg shows the number of customers with fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) connections amounted to 180,000 in the first quarter of 2020, which represents 12 per cent of total fixed broadband subscriptions.

The ComReg numbers also revealed broadband data usage from residential subscribers jumped 44.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, which includes the first month of lockdown and therefore the spike in remote working.

“ComReg has observed that our telecommunication networks have remained stable and resilient despite increased traffic demand for voice and data services since the Covid-19 restrictions came into effect in March 2020 ,” a spokesman for ComReg said.

Interesting trends

Siro chief executive John Keaney said the ComReg data confirmed a number of interesting trends in the Irish broadband market, which now stands at 1.8 million subscriptions, or 90 per cent of households, about the EU average.

“We see the continued migration from copper-based connections to higher-speed FTTP connections,” he said, noting nearly 40 per cent of customers were now taking packages of 100mbps (megabits per second).

“We also see the strong increase [nearly 50 per cent year on year] in data usage and traffic by consumers, showing consumers are getting more comfortable with higher bandwidth applications like video calls,” Mr Keaney said.

“Since lockdown, industry has seen a further 30-35 per cent increase in traffic on the networks, while network performance has stayed strong, reflecting recent significant investment by the sector. As operators, we have also seen changes in usage patterns, with far more traffic in the daytime as remote workers are at home and less traffic in the evening.”