An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, yesterday launched a joint venture between Vodafone and the ESB that will see one gigabit broadband being delivered to 10 towns around the country including Castlebar and Westport.
The new joint company, which is called SIRO, will be investing €450 million in building Ireland’s first 100 per cent fibre-to-the-building broadband network, offering speeds from 200Mbps to 1,000Mbps to 500,000 premises in 50 regional towns, which should revolutionise the broadband market in Ireland.
SIRO in not a retail product and is unique in that it exclusively offers a wholesale open access network meaning that it will be available to all telecoms operators in Ireland to resell to their customers.
Speaking at the launch An Taoiseach said: "I am delighted that both Castlebar and Westport are two of the first 10 towns that will have access to a one gigabit 100 per cent fibre broadband connection, putting us on a par for high speed connectivity with leading international hubs, such as Tokyo and Hong Kong.
"As a result, both Castlebar and Westport will ultimately have the same economic opportunities as those that are available in Dublin.
"Online entrepreneurs will be able to establish companies in their home-town as opposed to having to move to a major city for internet connectivity and more SMEs will be able to get online and access the €6 billion spent by Irish consumers every year.
"This project will also increase Ireland and Mayo's attractiveness as a destination for foreign direct investment. What this means in real terms is that families will be able to download a movie in two seconds and businesses will be able to both transfer very large files and hold conference calls with other parties rights across the globe without any problem.
"This continues the strong investment in broadband in the county. Only last month eNet announced a fibre cable for businesses in Castlebar and the transatlantic cable landing at Killala was announced.
"Only earlier this week we launched 1 GB rural broadband in Belcarra. Our job is to secure the recovery that has now taken hold and make sure it reaches every part of Ireland. Broadband is part of this plan."
Minister of State Michael Ring also welcomed the news saying: “SIRO’s 100 per cent fibre-to-the-building broadband network will be deployed on ESB’s existing overhead and underground infrastructure, ensuring a fast and cost efficient roll-out to every county in Ireland and reversing the digital divide between the capital and regional towns.
"This is a very positive development that will drive welcome competition in the market and much needed investment in broadband infrastructure across regional Ireland."
At the launch SIRO also announced its interest in tendering for the National Broadband Plan later this year to deliver the optimum solution for bringing high speed broadband to rural Ireland.