Vodafone has found another place to put a bit of that cash hoard it gained from the Verizon Wireless deal, and it's organic this time. They've formed a joint venture with the Irish power utility ESB to build out fiber to a half million premises across 50 towns in Ireland.
The two will be spending €450 and will use both the ESB's electric poles and underground conduit to bring as much as a Gigabit to homes across the country. Assuming EC bureaucrats don't object, they'll be starting the rollout this year with the first customers coming online at the beginning of 2015. The first phase will be complete by 2018, with room for further efforts later on if things go well.
Vodafone today has only 200K fixed line broadband customers, to which this effort would obviously contribute substantially. Elsewhere in Europe they have been buying cable operators, and both are clearly part of an overall plan to pair fixed line and wireless businesses across the region.
The ESB had been looking for a FTTH partner since beginning a tender process in 2012, and Vodafone emerged as the eventual winner. Other Irish providers have also been making FTTx investments lately. Eircom, for instance, had passed 800,000 premises with its FTTC buildout as of the end of the first quarter of 2014. However, actual fiber rollouts beyond the cabinet have lagged in country.
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