Juan Pablo Conti ©RapidTVNews | 02-08-2011

Satellite broadcaster BSkyB and cable operator UPC, the only two remaining providers of multichannel television in the Republic of Ireland, are bracing themselves for what is expected to be a new tough competitor.

Eircom, Ireland’s largest telecommunications provider, has announced plans to launch IPTV services from mid 2012. In what the company called “Phase 1 of a planned multi-year rollout”, Eircom said it will be investing over €100 million to upgrade its existing copper access network with fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technologies. Completion of Phase 1 is expected to leave around 100,000 homes and businesses ready to connect to the superfast network. Ultimately, one million premises will be reached.

Besides offering broadband internet access speeds of up to 150 Mbit/s, the infrastructure will be used to provide IPTV, video-on-demand (VOD), catch-up TV and social media via TV. Two initial trials of the technology will be carried out in Dublin and Wexford.

The news comes as the telco continues to negotiate a €4 billion debt restructuring with lenders. In that context, CEO Paul Donovan said: “The introduction of television and entertainment services is extremely exciting and underlines how far the company has progressed during the past two years.”