NBI counters FTTH competition with 500Mbps speed hike

Created August 18, 2020
News and Business

National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company delivering the National Broadband Plan (NBP) on behalf of the Government, has announced that the minimum download speed for its standard products will increase from 150Mb to 500Mbps. According to a press report in The Irish Independent the speed increase could be in response to a drop in high-end broadband prices by the incumbent Eir, which now has over 300,000 ‘passed’ fibre broadband premises and is aggressively trying to capture a fibre customer base.

The report says, “Underlying prices for the new state-funded rural broadband are pegged to those offered by the country’s biggest operators, chief among them Eir. The former incumbent recently announced a €5 price cut on higher-end wholesale broadband, placing its 500Mbs broadband service at the same price as its 150Mbs service. This means that NBI would have to offer a similar standard of service at a similar underlying price.”

With the network build commencing this month, business and residential users will also be able to get a 1Gbps product via internet service providers once the NBI network is live. When NBI signed contracts with the Government in November last year, the original commitment was to provide 150Mbps to every person and business in the Intervention Area (IA) without access to high-speed broadband.

Connecting around 537,000 premises where commercial operators do not currently provide high-speed broadband, NBI, as a wholesale provider, will make the new FTTH technology available to all retail service providers operating in the Intervention Area. With businesses able to access packages in excess of 1Gbps when the network has its first connections later this year, the National Broadband Plan is expected to play a key role in rejuvenating the potential for enterprise and employment in rural Ireland.

NBI Executive Chairman, David McCourt, commented: “In undertaking the National Broadband Plan, the Irish Government is revolutionising the opportunities for people in rural Ireland, who will have the ability to connect to local and global opportunity for the first time with high-speed broadband.

“Since the global Covid-19 pandemic struck in Ireland over six months ago, many people’s lives have changed significantly and we are much more reliant on digital connectivity than ever before. Today’s announcement to increase our minimum speeds empowers every person, every school, every farm and every business in the Intervention Area to gain access to truly world-leading speeds and we are incredibly proud to be playing our part in bringing this to rural Ireland.”

In the six months since work commenced, NBI has had teams working across 17 counties nationwide with survey work completed for over 63,000 premises. Build work for the new fibre network is due to commence in parts of Cork and Cavan by the end of August, and shortly after that, in townlands in Galway. The Intervention Area spans 96% of Ireland’s land mass and NBI says it will eventually use enough fibre to go round the world nearly four times as it delivers FTTH connections. Network design and planning is being done by 4Site, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indigo Group.

For more information, visit www.nbi.ie.


This article was written
by Peter Dykes

Peter Dykes is a independent telecoms and technology journalist who has over that last 30 years written for a wide range of B2B publications and companies. A former BT engineer, he specialises in networks and associated support systems. He is currently Editor of Optical Connections.