Vodafone has announced it is building a broadband network utilising the existing power supply infrastructure in Ireland.
The project, which will see broadband signals carried along power lines and underground cables, is the result of a €450m joint investment with the Irish Electricity Supply Board (ESB), which will provides a network capable of 1GBps download speeds to 500,000 premises across 50 towns.
The partly state-owned ESB had been looking for a partner to build a state-assisted fibre network since 2012 as it aims to narrow the divide between urban and rural areas. The new venture will employ 60 people alongside the existing ESB and Vodafone workforces in Ireland.
The deal is now subject to approval from the European Commission, but Vodafone is hoping it can begin rolling out the network in the next few months, with the first customers able to use the service from the beginning of 2015, and the project set to be completed by the end of 2018.
Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, said: "This initiative, combined with significant investments by other industry players means Ireland is beginning to position itself as a front runner in terms of tackling the high speed broadband deficit which almost all developed countries face.
"This is a vote of confidence in the Irish consumer, Irish business and the Irish economy."
Vodafone, which has 200,000 fixed broadband customers in Ireland and more than 8.5 million across Europe, was selected by the ESB following what it called a 'competitive' tender process.
Anne O'Leary, Vodafone Ireland CEO, said: "Vodafone is delighted to partner with ESB to make Ireland the first European country to roll-out nationwide fibre-to-the-building broadband on electricity infrastructure, making a hyper-connected future a reality for hundreds of thousands of Irish people and businesses."