Liberty Global and Virgin Media Ireland have today announced the rollout of gigabit broadband services to nearly a million homes across the Republic of Ireland.

This brings the total number of households with access to 1 Gbps broadband speeds to 14 million across Liberty Global’s footprint, including the company’s VodafoneZiggo joint venture in the Netherlands. Virgin Media Ireland joins Telenet and UPC Switzerland in becoming Liberty Global’s third fully-capable national gigabit network.

Ireland’s gigabit rollout to nearly a million homes represents 97.5% of Virgin Media Ireland’s network, which now stands as the country’s largest gigabit operator. The broadband speed increases in cities, towns and regions across the country, including Dublin, Limerick and Cork, are also significantly ahead of the European Commission’s “Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society” strategy, which recommends that all European households should have access to 30 Mbps connections by 2020 and 100 Mbps by 2025.

Paul Higgins, Vice President of Commercial at Virgin Media, said: “We’re proudly leading the charge to make Ireland faster by offering gigabit connectivity across our footprint.

“From today, we’re providing lightning fast broadband connectivity across the country on our gigabit network. We’re able to do this as a result of our constant investment across many years in our infrastructure and network capacity, now totalling over €1 billion, together with the most advanced in-home customer experience.

“We know our customers are using their broadband more than ever before with data usage increasing by 40% since March. With our announcement today, we’re able to give customers the option of 1Gb broadband and the latest in-home technology to unlock the power of this new capability. The fastest just got faster.”

The launch is being powered by Virgin Media Ireland’s market-leading gigabit-capable router – the V2, which features next generation DOCSIS 3.1 technology that enables broadband speeds to be significantly increased without having to dig up the roads. It means customers will be able to download an HD film in just 16 seconds, compared with 5 minutes on a 50 Mbps internet connection.

Liberty Global is set to launch gigabit speed services in even more cities in the coming months, as it continues to boost superfast internet access across Europe. In the UK, Virgin Media reaches 3.6 million customers with gigabit speeds and UPC Poland has so far connected more than 60 cities to its gigabit service.

Gigabit speeds revolutionize the digital experience by making the next generation of home entertainment technology a reality. Applications of gigabit speeds include cloud-based gaming, 8K streaming, remote health tele-monitoring and advanced telepresence, which could enable consumers to go ‘virtual reality shopping’ or watch live broadcasts of holographic sports events.

By providing ultra-high capacity, reliable, secure, resilient and low latency networks, gigabit speed broadband services will unlock significant economic growth. According to research from international management consulting firm, Arthur D. Little, the innovation spurred by the widespread availability of gigabit speeds are estimated to deliver between €250-660 billion of economic value per year in Europe by 2025.