Virgin Media Ireland is to invest €200m in upgrading its network across the country to a purely fibre-based system.

The investment will impact more than a million homes and businesses that are already passed by the company's network, which is principally based in cities and towns.

500 new jobs are to be created as part of the build-out of the upgraded network, which begins early next year and is expected to take three years.

"At Virgin Media we’re committed to innovating for our customers and investing in Ireland’s long-term digital future," said Tony Hanway, CEO of Virgin Media.

"We’re now accelerating the evolution of our network by building out full fibre to more than one million Irish homes and businesses over the next 3 years".

The fibre network will enable speeds of up to 10Gbps to be achieved by customers, a substantial increase on the maximum of 1Gbps that Virgin currently offers, following its launch a year ago.

Pricing has yet to be decided, as has the minimum connection speeds for those connected to it.

Virgin Media Ireland said that once the upgrade is complete, it will be opening up the network to other operators to use on a wholesale basis.

Much of the network is already based on fibre, particularly in areas where the company recently expanded its footprint.

However, the investment will ensure that parts that continue to use older cable-based technology get the full benefits of fibre and future-proof it.

It is understood that the upgrade will not include any new premises due to be connected under the Government’s National Broadband Plan.

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The firm has already upgraded around 500 premises as part of a pilot which it claims has been a success.

The news was welcomed by the Minister for Communications, Eamon Ryan who said it would see the further delivery of very high-speed broadband to homes and businesses.

"Continued investments by commercial operators such as this bring benefits for consumers," he said.

"Together with the Government's investment under the National Broadband Plan, this will place Ireland at the forefront of EU countries in terms of Gigabit connectivity."

The investment will be paid for from inside the Liberty Global group, which owns Virgin Media Ireland.

Earlier this year it was reported that Liberty Global had put Virgin Media Ireland up for sale with a price tag of €1.5bn.

However, speaking to the Irish Times today, Mr Hanway said Virgin Media Ireland, including its television station, is not for sale.