The firm responsible for managing the State’s regional fibre networks and metropolitan area networks (MANs) has launched a campaign whereby it will write to 3,000 businesses across Ireland that are located close to the MANs and encourage them to drive demand for broadband services in their area.
E-Net, the firm that won a 15-year contract with the Government to manage its nationwide network of MANs that will straddle key towns the length and breadth of Ireland, has embarked on a new promotional strategy aimed at encouraging local businesses to aggregate demand in their regions and encourage telecom operators to driver services to those regions.
The company will principally focus on firms within 200 metres of the MANs to express an interest in receiving high-speed broadband services and E-Net will carry out feasibility studies looking at the option of providing the services by wireless or by digging fibre into the ground. E-Net will then be able to demonstrate to carriers such as BT Ireland or Smart Telecom that there is demand in a particular areas and this will in turn drive investment into these towns.
E-Net is currently responsible for running 27 MANs on behalf of the Government. These are: Athlone, Ballina, Bunbeg, Carlow, Carrick-on-Shannon, Clonmel, Cork, Dungarvan, Galway, Letterkenny, Limerick, Manorhamilton, Mullingar, Portlaoise, Roscommon, Tullamore, Waterford, Kilkenny, Kiltimagh, Wexford, Carrickmacross, Cavan town, Drogheda, Dundalk, Kingscourt, Monaghan and Sligo. The network will be eventually expanded to cover 120 towns.
E-Net runs these fibre networks on behalf of the Government, operating as an independent wholesaler by providing access to the MANs to a range of telecoms operators and service providers including Aurora, BT Ireland, Chorus, ESB Telecom and Eircom. For example in September, it signed major deals with ESB Telecom and BT Ireland to connect all the MANs together on a fibre network.
As a result, all authorised and licensed telecoms carriers will be able to avail of E-Net’s wholesale services. The company said the pricing model will change the current model with distance independence becoming a feature as well as a considerable reduction in bandwidth costs.
John Lawlor, marketing manager for E-Net, told siliconrepublic.com that true broadband is more than simply the upgraded telephone line that is DSL and should be capable of 10Mbps and upwards. A single 12-fibre cable is capable of carrying broadband on behalf of six carriers. “Our customers are the carriers but we would like to encourage businesses in locations such as industrial parks to voice their interest and in turn we would conduct a feasibility study to see what engineering work is involved. The various carriers might decide to absorb the investment in the interests of getting the business.”
Lawlor explained that hundreds of businesses around the country have signed up for broadband services through the MANs. “Unless you have true infrastructural competition you don’t have competition in telecoms. At the moment we are looking at businesses deriving cost savings of up to a four or fivefold decrease in bandwidth costs — they are getting 10Mbps for the cost of 2Mbps.”
As well as dealing with wireline providers such as BT Ireland, Colt, MCI, Chorus, Magnet Networks and Smart Telecom, Lawlor said E-Net is also working with wireless broadband providers such as Irish Broadband, Amocom and Magnet Networks about hooking up wireless services to the MANs to overcome infrastructural boundaries.
He also revealed the company is dealing with property development firms such as Birchdale Developments in Portlaoise about fibre-enabling entire new housing developments.
“We are going to work hard to encourage interest amongst businesses in towns where we have infrastructure to express an interest in receiving high-speed services and we expect to get a good reaction.
“We are live in 27 towns and expect to go to 120 over the next two years through a massive expansion of the MANs. We are very optimistic that they will play a critical role in transforming Ireland from a broadband point of view. We are working hard with the all the various industry players to establish a regime whereby businesses can participate in redefining the broadband market in Ireland today,” Lawlor concluded.
By John Kennedy