Vodafone Ireland has established a joint venture with energy supplier ESB to deploy a €450 million fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) network.

The companies will make extensive use of ESB's overhead and underground infrastructure to ensure a fast and efficient deployment. The joint venture aims to offer commercial services by the start of 2015, and has set an initial rollout target of connecting 500,000 premises in 50 towns by the end of 2018.

According to regulator ComReg's Q1 2014 market report, 43% of fixed broadband customers in Ireland receive speeds of less than 10 Mbps and 4.7% receive speeds below 2 Mbps. The network that will be built by Vodafone and ESB will offer theoretical peak connection speeds ranging from 200 Mbps to 1 Gbps, propelling Ireland up Europe's broadband ranking.

"With the number of devices per household anticipated to almost double over the next four years and more bandwidth-hungry services being developed, this new broadband service will enable a whole range of new services to be offered to Irish customers in the future, from entertainment, security [and] teleworking to Web-based gaming or home automation," said Anne O'Leary, CEO of Vodafone Ireland, in a statement on Wednesday.

Vodafone was selected by ESB in September 2013 as the preferred bidder in a competitive tender to partner with it build an FTTB network. Under the terms of the agreement, Vodafone and ESB will offer wholesale access to their network in a bid to foster retail competition in the high-speed residential and business broadband sector.

"The fibre broadband network will be a key enabler for a knowledge-based, services-led economy that will help to attract investment to Ireland. This fibre infrastructure will use ESB's existing electricity infrastructure, maximising the use of state assets to the benefit of Irish society," said Pat O'Doherty, chief executive of ESB.