SIRO announces €40m investment in its fibre broadband rollout
Mark Whelan
Staff Writer

SIRO, the provider of Ireland's first 100% fibre optic broadband network, will invest €40m to connect Mullingar, Newbridge, Ennis, Portlaoise, Drogheda and Carlow to its network before the end of the year.

Last month, SIRO revealed that Drogheda, Dundalk and Letterkenny are the next three communities in line for its superfast broadband rollout, thanks to a new partnership with Digiweb.

And now, the company, which is also partnered with Vodafone, has committed to investing €40m in its rollout to Mullingar, Newbridge, Ennis, Portlaoise, Drogheda and Carlow.

This means that the company will be providing (or actively working on providing) 17 rural towns and communities in Ireland's blackspots with state-of-the-art broadband before 2017. The towns are Dundalk, Cavan, Carrigaline, Sligo, Letterkenny, Tralee, Wexford, Drogheda, Westport, Castlebar, Mullingar, Newbridge, Ennis, Ratheniska, Carlow and Skibbereen.

Thanks to its partnership with Digiweb, SIRO is promising speeds of between 150 Mbps and 1,000 Mbps for €45 a month under its soon-to-be-launched ‘Electric Broadband’ product.

How SIRO works

Work began on SIRO’s fibre network two years ago and the company intends to reach 50 communities, including Gorey, Mullingar and Westport, under Phase One of the project.

What allows SIRO to offer speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps is the use of fibre-optic cables instead of copper wires in its network infrastructure.

Fibre-optic cables comprise thin strands of glass, which transmit data using an infra-red laser light and are capable of faster transfer speeds than any other type of network.

However, with some fibre networks, the cables only travel to the ‘cabinet’ outside the building they’re destined for. The data then completes its journey to the home through legacy copper wires, which can significantly slow the process down. Such connections are called ‘fibre-to-the-cabinet’.

SIRO boasts ‘fibre-to-the-building’ connections, however, meaning that copper wires are bypassed and speeds are consistently much faster.

Urban-rural digital divide

Ireland’s infamous urban-rural digital divide has been the subject of countless studies, false starts and angry tweets.

A recent study showed that one in five people in rural Ireland have no access to broadband at all, while one in four of those who do, say that it’s too slow to meet their online needs.

With everything from online banking to on-demand live sport becoming increasingly popular in Ireland’s well-serviced areas, it is easy to see why the country’s blackspot dwellers feel as if they have been left behind.

What has made the frustrations all the more acute is the litany of promises which have either been broken or altered over recent years. The most recent 'altered' promise came in April, when the Government’s National Broadband Plan, which is committed to connecting every home in the country with a minimum of 30 Mbps broadband, suffered yet another delay. The contracts to provide the service won’t be awarded until June 2017 as a result of the latest delay.

Despite the issues the National Broadband Plan has faced, a number of private ventures, such as SIRO and eir, have taken matters into their own hands by building networks capable of offering speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps. And today's announcement will certainly be welcomed by residents of Mullingar, Newbridge, Ennis, Portlaoise, Drogheda and Carlow.

Rural Ireland

Communities which are slated for superfast broadband from SIRO or eir will be eagerly awaiting the day when the fibre rollout reaches them. Regarding the National Broadband Plan, it will be interesting to see which company wins the Government’s lucrative contract next June and whether projected timelines for completion will be updated.

For now though, individuals who are seeking faster connections should give our brand new broadband comparison service a try. We have recently re-designed the service, which comapres deals from eir, Sky, Virgin Media, Vodafone and more, and matches individuals with their ideal broadband deal, based on availability and personal preferences. Find your best broadband match here.