I have been in touch with both EIR & Imagine regarding fibre broadband in locations around the Municipal District including Annaghdown/Corrandulla, Claregalway, Oranmore and Athenry.
Many people will have seen the Imagine LTE corriboard signs that have been erected in areas throughout the Municipal District and County over the last few weeks.
Imagine get fibre to a mast in an area ( each area serviced covers about 13km) and connect houses or business directly to the fibre at the mast using a wall or roof mounted box (the box is similar in size to a house alarm). A wire is run from the external box into the home or business and connected to a smaller router device which gives wifi, or direct connect internet. The technology being used is TD-LTE advanced and offers very ‘low latency – 20ms’ . This is very important for gamers, businesses, etc and is much lower than DSL.
The number of customers is limited to 400 per installation to ensure the high level of speed is maintained. If demand exceeds 400, Imagine will look at putting in a second installation.
You can get speeds of up to 70Mb but Imagine are selling this as 30Mb plus service. Customers in North Kildare, for example, are getting speeds of over 60Mb. The service is also a full phone service , so you don’t need any other phone line going to your house or business. The home service gives people 600Gbs per month, which is large (an average film is about 2Gb download and an average user is about 70Gb’s per month if they have a decent connection).
Imagine charge €59.95 per month for the service, which is dearer than current offerings for slower fix line broadband, but realistically the only option currently available in many rural locations. You can check if your area is covered online by using the map at www.imagine.ie
The information differs from area to area:-
The plan for Annaghdown/Corrandulla is a technology called Fibre to the Home which means that Eir willl "...deliver a fibre connection to the home itself, usually the gable wall." Delivery of Fibre to the Home is planned for Eir's 2017-2020 programme of works but they are unable to give information more specific than that in relation to timing as the plans "are subject to change". They state that more than 1,600 homes and businesses will be included in the plan for the area, while the remainder will unfortunately be covered by the Government’s National Broadband Plan, which as we know there is no clarity about in terms of delivery time.
2. Claregalway / Cregmore
Two exchanges are present in Claregalway and in Cregmore respectively, and the Claregalway exchange is already active. 3 cabinets that run off it also have fibre, meaning that nearly 1,000 homes and businesses are already able to access fibre broadband in the area. A fourth cabinet is expected but took longer than the others as access to private land was required. However, I am informated that work has progressed and the homes and businesses connected to that cabinet should be able to place orders before the end of the summer when approximately 30 additional premises will be added to the network. All of the above relates to exchanges and cabinets. Each home/business connected will be run off a copper line that connects to the exchange, therefore exact speeds depend on distance from the cabinet.
For those on the Claregalway exchange that do not benefit from the above, the exchange is included in the rural fibre rollout plan, which will include the fibre to the home technology mentioned for Corrandulla above. Claregalway is in the plans for late 2016, but allowing for unforseen events, it is expected to be delivered by the first quarter of 2017 at the latest.
Work is underway on the Cregmore exchange. Currently, the forecast is for this to be available late in the summer, benefitting more than 200 homes and businesses. However, it is again concerning to note that there is no additional work planned for that exchange thereafter, leaving it to be covered by the National Broadband Plan.
Oranmore already has more than 3,000 homes and businesses that can access Eir's fibre network, including those connected to the exchange, plus 15 cabinets. Over 800 homes and businesses will be added by the end of 2016 on the Fibre to the Home Programme. This is also forecast for winter this year, but is earlier in the plan than Claregalway, and is likely to be early winter.
Athenry has more than 2,000 homes and businesses with fibre already available. This is made up of those directed to the exchange, plus 11 cabinets. The last cabinet became available for order in April of this year. The Fibre to the Home schedule for Athenry is the same as Claregalway (planned for late this year, but may be early next year due to unforeseen circumstances), and includes nearly 800 additional homes and businesses.
A copy of a presentation made recently in Athenry regarding the FTTH technology and rollout is available hereunder.