E-net profits rocket 70pc, boosted by strong demand for fibre

9 Sep 2011

Open access telco E-net, which operates the Irish Government’s nationwide Metropolitan Area Network (MANs)s in 94 key locations, has reported a 20pc jump in turnover of €17.5m year-on-year, reaping it profits that were up 70pc to €2.9m after tax.

Revenue is up from €13.9m in the previous financial year and signals full-year revenue growth of 26pc.

E-net employs 51 people and counts leading telecoms service providers such as BT, Vodafone, Magnet and UPC among its customers.

E-net CEO Conal Henry said the MANs have had a major impact on boosting the range, quality and competitiveness of communications solutions for homes and businesses in enabled towns.

He said he believes the PPP (public private partnership) structure used for the MANs is the ideal mechanism through which the State can meet the policy challenges of 2011. “The future is fibre, specifically open-access fibre. Over the long term, E-net seeks to have an increased presence at the heart of communications services in Ireland,” Henry said.

A national imperative: closing the next-generation access gap

Asked about the current condition of the Irish telecoms market, Henry said: “What characterises the market over the past year has been the rapid growth in demand for bandwidth. We are seeing that right across our customer base, particularly among players like Vodafone, O2, Imagine and UPC.

“We have had strong demand for connectivity to individual premises with firms demanding up to 1Gbps with one firm demanding 10Gbps connectivity.”

Henry forecasts growth in the Irish fibre market to continue, driven by a strong foreign direct investment performance in Ireland.

“We will be keen to see what role MANs can play in 2011’s policy challenges and that ultimately will be about next-generation access.”

Henry said offerings by players like UPC that include phone and broadband services at price points of less than €100 are setting a standard.

“But the reality is that offering is only available to 50pc of businesses in the country.”

I asked Henry how the Government’s High Level Strategy Group on Next Generation Networks is proceeding. “It is travelling in the right direction but could go quicker. More than 40pc of the Irish population cannot access high-speed broadband suitable for the business and consumer applications of tomorrow. We see the MANs playing a crucial role in filling that gap,” Henry said.

Photo: Conal Henry, CEO, E-net

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