Irish Broadband €18m funding is concrete

7 Jan 2005

Wireless broadband provider Irish Broadband has revealed that it has secured €18m in funding from National Toll Roads (NTR) and Kilsaran Concrete Products that will both invest in the company on a 50:50 basis. The investment will give Kilsaran a 28pc stake in Irish Broadband, an NTR subsidiary.

Irish Broadband will use the funds raised to further invest in its independent state-of-the-art wireless broadband network and to accelerate the company’s nationwide expansion and strengthen the company’s market position. IBI Corporate Finance and Matheson Ormsby Prentice advised Irish Broadband on the funding process.

Irish Broadband provides fixed wireless data services with speeds ranging from 512Kbps up to 6Mbps and its customer base includes home users, small and medium-sized enterprises and large corporate players. The company’s service to business and home internet users includes high-speed always-on internet access (upstream as well as downstream) with unlimited connection to the internet from €30 per month for home users and €45 per month for business users.

The company is providing coverage in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford, Drogheda and Dundalk under seven existing licences, but has ambitions to provide total nationwide coverage. This ambition was helped by a recent decision by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) to award it with nine further licences under phase two of ComReg’s FWALA 3.5GHz licensing scheme, covering for Athlone, Arklow, Ennis, Kilkenny, Letterkenny, Newbridge, Portlaoise, Wexford and Carlow.

In recent months it emerged that Irish Broadband is collaborating with Intel in Leixlip to engage in Ireland’s first WiMax trials. WiMax is a standards-based wireless technology that provides high-throughput broadband connections over long distances. WiMax can be used for a number of applications, including broadband internet connections, hotspot and cellular backhaul and high-speed enterprise connectivity for businesses. As part of the roll out, Intel and Irish Broadband are offering free high-speed wireless internet connectivity over WiMax technology for a three-year period, to eight primary and post-primary schools in Leixlip and the new Leixlip Library, which is currently under construction.

Commenting on the investment, Paul Doody, managing director, Irish Broadband said: “This significant additional investment by NTR and the initial investment by Kilsaran is an endorsement of our products, technology and future growth plans. It and will enable us to bring the benefits of wireless broadband to even more Irish homes and businesses.”

Doody continued: “Irish Broadband is committed to helping the Irish Government achieve its stated aim of ensuring that the country is at or better than the EU average for broadband usage by mid-2005 and we believe continued investment in wireless broadband will play a significant role in achieving this goal. To this end, we intend to invest these funds to expand our independent network across Ireland in 2005 to deliver broadband to a broad base of consumers and businesses.”

Dermot McKeown, chief executive, Kilsaran, said: “Irish Broadband is recognised as Ireland’s leading wireless broadband provider and we are delighted to have the opportunity to invest alongside NTR. This investment represents a strategic expansion of our traditional business which we believe puts us in a great position to reap the benefits of Ireland’s future digital economy.”

By John Kennedy