Dark fibre motorway survey completed – vital first step towards next gen networks

8 Dec 2012

Never mind all the talk about fibre networks, what really needs to be talked about is dark fibre – the high capacity cable that will future-proof Ireland to be at the crossroads of commerce for decades to come. It seems we need miles of the stuff and the first steps to roll it out have been taken following a survey of the ducting beneath our motorways.

PiPiper Infrastructure has revealed that it has completed the first survey of the duct system along the M4/M6 Galway to Dublin motorway.

When the motorways were built it was a precondition that ducts be put under the roads so that in the future high capacity fibre could be deployed.

But since the motorways were built virtually nothing has been done and another problem could be the quality and standards applied since different contractors were employed at different points of the construction of motorways in the last 20 years. Surveying the motorways is an important step before the vital civil engineering work begins to ensure the work can be completed within budget, to the right standard and within the right timeframe.

At the crossroads of commerce

Siliconrepublic.com reported a year ago that PiPiper planned to deploy dark fibre around Ireland to help attract and retain inward investment and give local firms a fighting chance in the booming internet economy.

It proposes to build a dark fibre network linking the US and Europe that puts Ireland at the crossroads of commerce in the decades to come with important implications for financial services, digital media, software and entertainment.

In recent months the company signed an agreement with Apollo Submarine Cable System Ltd to land a direct transatlantic fibre cable system network on the west coast.

PiPiper’s team of industry experts will establish through “Project Joshua” the shortest, lowest latency, fibre infrastructure route linking 60 Hudson Street, Manhattan, New York via submarine cable with Belmullet in County Mayo and onwards via its east-west terrestrial link to Dublin.

A spokesman for PiPiper said the Project Joshua network will become Ireland’s first Tier 1 fibre backbone infrastructure utility, servicing a digital eco system that positions Ireland as the world’s leading technology and connectivity hub.

“We are delighted to have completed this stage of our work programme under which we plan to install a dark fibre network enabling the fastest direct data connection across Ireland and onwards to America. We thank the National Roads Authority, Local Authorities and the motorway concessionaires for their assistance in this first step.”

At present, 94 towns are circled with fibre in the form of Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) and many are connected nationally and internationally by fibre backhaul.However, the next phase of development requires abundant supply of dark fibre to future-proof the networks for the decades ahead as communication speeds explode beyond their present capabilities.

Dark fibre is the industry term for a fibre based telecommunications service where the service provider offers an unlit end to end fibre connection and the customer provides their own optical terminal equipment. In such circumstances the customer can control the speed of the connection as their demand grows, with an almost unlimited bandwidth capacity, constrained only by their choice of optical technology.

“The first step is always significant in the life of any project”, the spokesman added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years