More than 600,000 people in Ireland ranging from students to employees of public sector and multinational organisations are now accessing various telecoms services through the Government’s network of Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs).
Some 27 towns are now surrounded by fibre optic rings as part of the first phase of the Government’s €170m investment in MANs.
These include: Athlone, Ballina, Carlow, Carrick-on-Shannon, Carrickmacross, Cavan, Clonmel, Cork City, Dundalk, Drogheda, Dungarvan, Galway City, Gweedore, Kingscourt, Kilkenny, Kiltimagh, Letterkenny, Limerick City, Manorhamilton, Monaghan, Mullingar, Portlaoise, Roscommon, Sligo, Tullamore, Waterford City and Wexford.
The Government is currently proceeding with a second phase of the Metropolitan Area Network (MANs) Programme for the building of a further 90 MANs around Ireland.
Telecoms operators using the MANs are enabling businesses to access broadband by various means ranging from cable to mobile and wireless.
E-net, the company responsible for managing the first phase of MANs in Ireland said that all of the local loop unbundling (LLU) happening outside Dubin is based on its MANs.
The company estimates that 87,996 third level students and 32,954 private sector jobs are relying directly on MAN services.
An estimated 399,100 mobile customers are also relying on the MANs for their mobile services and a further 42,000 homes and businesses are indirectly using the MANs for a range of voice, data and entertainment services.
The chief executive of E-net, Conal Henry said that the MANs are playing a vital role in securing foreign direct investment (FDI) in regional areas.
As examples of recent project wins in which the MANs played a pivotal role in the decision-making he cited Blizzard and SolarWinds in Cork, Teleflex in Athlone, Genzyme in Waterford, Fidelity in Galway, and Pramerica in Letterkenny.
“Three years in, it is clear that the MANs are delivering for the regions — they are facilitating more balanced regional development; helping the retention and expansion of FDI, and driving down the cost of broadband as well as introducing new product offerings to the regions,” Henry explained.
“Take Limerick as an example — as a result of the fibre optic MAN, the city now has 12 operators competing with each other in the delivery of a range of different services to both business and residence in the area, from LLU to 3G to Cable to Wireless.
“The MANs have broken the single supplier dependency and provided choice and competition in the regions included in Phase I. In a short space of time there are over 600,000 users benefiting from the existence of the MAN,” Henry added.
By John Kennedy
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