A joint venture between the ESB and Vodafone has been officially launched today, with the promise of 200 temporary construction jobs and 60 permanent positions.

The new broadband company, called Siro, is to invest €450m in bringing high speed fibre optic broadband cables to the door of 500,000 premises in regional towns around the country.

The service has been trialled in 300 premises in Cavan since last autumn, where users have been able to avail of upload and download speeds of up to 1 Gbps.

The network will be built on the ESB's existing overground and underground infrastructure and involves bringing a fibre optic cable, capable of handling the high speed broadband connectivity, right into the user's home or premises.

It differs from most other fibre services on offer as it does not involve the use of slower copper cabling at any stage of the network.

The new service promises speeds of between 200 Mbps and 1000 Mbps, many multiples of what most users currently have.

The system will be open, meaning it will be made available to all other telecom operators to offer retail services over. 

Siro itself will not offer retail services but Vodafone, as a partner in the venture, is likely to be one of the first operators to use the network to offer a service directly to customers. 

Siro this morning revealed the ten towns in which the service will begin rolling out to from June. 

They include Cavan, Dundalk, Westport, Castlebar, Sligo, Carrigaline, Tralee, Navan, Letterkenny and Wexford. 

A further 40 towns will be brought online from next year.

The company says, depending on commercial viability, up to 300 other regional towns and large villages could also see the network extended to them.

The firm is targeting centres of population away from the large cities, which are already well served by broadband infrastructure.

The company says 200 contractors will be employed to roll out the service, while a further 60 people will be employed on a direct and permanent basis by the joint venture company.

Siro is not the only company planning to offer so-called Fibre-to-the-Home services to areas outside the main cities. 

Eircom has been conducting a trial in Belcarra Co Mayo, and announced earlier this week that it will roll out its FTTH offering to 19 locations from August. 

A further 66 communities will later be included in the Eircom network footprint, which will involve the use of 90,000km of fibre optic cable.

However, 30% of the country's premises are unlikely to ever receive high speed broadband services from commercial operators, because they are in rural areas which are not commercially viable for the private sectors company to build out to.

Instead, the 700,000 premises are due to be connected under the Government-subsidised National Broadband Plan, which pledges to deliver a minimum of 30Mbps connectivity to all homes by the end of the decade.

However, many people in rural areas are sceptical of the plan, because previous State broadband plans have failed to deliver, leaving many rural dwellers and businesses without connectivity.