E-net is yer only MAN

26 Jun 2008

E-net, the company already responsible for running the Government’s first 26 Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs), has been given ‘preferred bidder’ status in the competition to run the second phase of the plan, which will see a further 66 towns receive fibre rings.

The company’s chief executive, Conall Henry, told siliconrepublic.com that E-net is on target to break even this year.

For its latest financial results, Henry said the company’s revenues have doubled in the past two years to €7.2m and it has a net loss of €1.2m. “By the end of this year, we should break even and from then on steer into profitability.”

He described E-net’s appointment by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) as a validation of the company’s administration of the €160m MAN project to date.

E-net and DCENR aim to finalise negotiations on a contract by early autumn of this year.

Henry said the provision of high-speed broadband in the 66 Phase 2 towns via the MANs would depend on a number of factors such as the time at which the network is handed over, the business plans of the various telecoms operators in that area and the availability of backhaul to connect the MANs in each town to the wider, global network.

He said E-net’s experience with Phase 1 is that over time the existence of a MAN has a major impact on the range, quality and value of communications solutions for homes and businesses in the area.

Henry also told siliconrepublic.comthat the MANs of the Phase 1 towns directly result in communications services for over 550,000 people.

Particularly in Phase 2, for key regional towns like Clifden and Baileborough, the MANs will be the only show in town. They are going to be the platform from which any next-generation network will have a future in those parts of the world.

Asked what state the build of the fibre optic rings around the towns in Phase 1 and Phase 2 were at, Henry said all 27 towns in Phase 1 are operational and the networks for Phase 2 are almost entirely complete.

“Our ambition is to close the deal with the Irish Government as soon as possible because it will take time to manage the network handover, inspection, testing and lighting of the fibre,” Henry concluded.

Customers of the MANs across Ireland include major operators like UPC, Vodafone and O2.

By John Kennedy

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