The Irish government today postponed a key decision on the country's national broadband plan, further delaying deployment of a program originally scheduled for completion by the end of 2020. It has not yet begun.
Like many countries, Ireland's major cities are well-served by competitive operators that use a mix of fiber-based fixed broadband, LTE, Gfast and fiber for MDUs. Rural regions, however, have a different connectivity reality. In many cases, the cost versus return of sparsely populated areas and rugged cable-unfriendly terrains of the Irish countryside are prohibitive for many of the nation's leading fiber service providers.
In November 2018, the government seemed close to a deal, promising to agree to a plan "within weeks." When that never materialized, government officials then pledged to share a deal "before Easter." With that holiday falling this weekend -- and broadband not a planned topic of discussion in the sole session left between then and now -- it's unlikely government will meet this promise.
Cost of delays
Originally, five operators -- including Eir and Siro, a joint venture between Vodafone and ESB -- vied for a contract to design, deploy and maintain the fiber optic infrastructure crisscrossing Ireland. Since 2015, however, that number has dwindled and only one remains. That solo bidder is Granahan McCourt, which plans to create a group of sub-contractors to build the network. Energy conglomerate SSE had teamed with the US-based investment firm, but pulled out of the consortium in July 2018. Now the investment firm stands alone, presumably until it amasses operator subs upon granting of a contract.
The deal will cost Irish taxpayers at least €3 billion, according to opposition party Fianna Fáil's Timmy Dooley. Leaders of the party (which means Soldiers of Destiny or Warriors of Fáil) suggest the state-owned Electricity Supply Board as an alternative infrastructure provider. Indeed, ESB offers dark fiber in Dublin via its ESB Telecoms subsidiary. In partnership with Zayo, it also owns and operates a 116-kilometer (72-mile) subsea dark fiber route between Ireland and the UK, and provides other traditional telecom offerings such as managed services, towers and carrier Ethernet.
These capabilities make ESB an attractive solution to Ireland's rural-broadband problem, Dooley said.
In 2018 and 2017, 89% of Irish households had Internet access up from 87% in 2015, according to the Central Statistics Office.
In a flurry of activity throughout the week, Donald (DJ) LaVoy, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at the US Department of Agriculture, and his team spent about $145.8 million in the non-urban or suburban areas of seven states.
Calix reported revenue of $120.19 million – up 4% – in Q4 2019, putting a bounce in the step of company president and CEO Carl Russo and a shine to Calix's ongoing transition from hardware vendor to a provider of platforms enabled by cloud, APIs and subscriber experience.
Looking to curtail e-waste and improve the bottom line, BT will require customers to return routers and set-top boxes, although subscribers will not have to pay a fee when they receive regular broadband equipment.
Deploying DOCSIS 3.1 across its entire footprint gave Rogers Communications the ability to offer speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s,
contributing to a broadband segement that generated about 60% of the Canadian operator's $3.05 billion (US) in Q4 cable earnings.
It wasn't long ago that TV was ranked by subscribers as the most important service in the bundle provided by their communications service provider (CSP). Recent research indicates that for nearly three quarters of subscribers, broadband is now the most important service. Broadcast TV is the most important service to only 15% of North American consumers, replaced by OTT video streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. In addition, many different competitors are moving aggressively to stake a claim in consumers' homes.
In 2020, CSPs need to fight back by transforming their business models, which are becoming more reliant on a single source of revenue: fixed broadband services.
This webinar will focus on helping CSPs transform their business models by placing a firm focus on delivering a sensational subscriber experience and by offering compelling new services that generate value for subscribers. These actions will reinforce the CSP's strategic position in the home network and position themselves for growth in the next decade.
Key topics include:
Being the first to market with WiFi 6 technology, in response to consumer purchases of new devices over the holidays;
Having the insights needed to proactively resolve issues, often before your subscribers even know that there are issues;
Providing help desk agents with the visibility they need to resolve common subscriber issues more quickly;
Delivering a mobile app, in response to consumer demands for the ability to do some things themselves, rather than having to call technical support; and
Addressing consumer concerns around device security, privacy and control with enhanced security and parental controls.
In this insightful Light Reading radio show, Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, will outline the key service provider challenges, deployment considerations, next-gen Gigabit technologies, and service models to win market share in the rapidly growing MDU market.