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.