ESB, the Irish electricity supplier, and UK’s Vodafone have formed a 50:50 partnership in building a new fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) broadband network. This €450 million (US$615 million) project will deliver download speeds ranging from 200 Mbps to 1 Gbps. The FTTB network of ESB-Vodafone will connect some 500,000 homes and businesses in 50 towns and cities (map) nationwide. It will plug the first group of customers in early-2015.
This open access network will make Ireland the Europe’s first country in terms of 100% FTTB penetration. It will also rival Sweden’s Stokab network. The ESB-Vodafone partnership will explode the consumption of Internet bandwidth in Ireland. Consequently it will fuel the demand of international connectivity, which should be initially met by Emerald Express. The Republic will, however, need to inject more transatlantic and pan-European bandwidth to meet the surge of demand. Google is revamping data centers, the factory and warehouse of Internet, in Ireland.
The Irish model of FTTB is the result of regulatory goodwill. And that’s all is needed to make Internet affordable in the developing world. Patchworks certainly don’t work in policy reforms, especially for broadband. That’s why, in association with ESCAP, we have been persuading the first step to universal access of Internet across Asia. Our ultimate goal is to achieve universal access of broadband. The ESB-Vodafone partnership will be a valuable reference in our ongoing engagement.