Eircom goes transatlantic via fibre deal with Hibernia

23 Nov 2009

Incumbent telco Eircom is to provide direct transatlantic cable services after signing a partnership deal with Hibernia Atlantic, which is owned by investor Ken Peterson, who also owns Magnet Networks.

Under the deal with Hibernia Atlantic, Eircom will be able to provide direct fibre-optic connections from the Eircom data centre in Clonshaugh to the US and Canada.

More cost control

The direct transatlantic cable will give North American companies operating in Ireland greater cost control for connectivity by eradicating expensive connections via the UK or Europe to Ireland, which up to now has been their only option. Eircom’s data centre is physically located on the same site as Hibernia’s cable landing station in Dublin.

The availability of a direct transatlantic connection from the US to Ireland will make it significantly easier for North American companies to do business in Ireland. It will also be a key factor in attracting foreign investment and encouraging business growth by improving the perception of Ireland as a more “connected” country, especially for US and Canadian companies.

“This is a significant announcement for Eircom as it means that our data centre now sits on the fastest connectivity line to the US and Canada,” Andy O’Kelly, business solutions director, Eircom explained.

“The ability to move data at the speed of light is crucial in today’s Knowledge Economy. Data-centre users are measuring their data transfer times in terms of milliseconds across the Atlantic and into major European cities from Dublin. The low latency network of Hibernia Atlantic will allow our clients to have confidence in Dublin as a strategic data-centre location.

“The combination of the energy efficiency of the Eircom data centre and high availability of fibre-optic networks makes it the location of choice for major online brands and cloud-computing service providers.

“Additionally, in the current economic climate, effective and cost-efficient solutions enabling the exchange of data are imperative to the success of any company. With the growth of online content and Ireland’s central role in the data-centre infrastructure in Europe, it is very welcome that Hibernia Atlantic’s direct links to the US are available directly from our data-centre floor,” O’Kelly said.

70 places

Hibernia Atlantic’s transatlantic and terrestrial cable network offers more than 70 points of presence throughout Ireland, Canada, the US, the UK and mainland Europe on more than 24,000km of optical-fibre network. The fibre-optic transatlantic cable system owned by Hibernia was originally laid by 360 Networks at a cost of €900 million.

It was acquired by Ken Peterson’s Columbia Ventures several years ago for a fraction of that sum at just US$18 million after 360 Networks filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US.

In June, the network was augmented by the €30-million ‘Project Kelvin’ fibre cable that will link Ireland to 24,000km of undersea cable connecting Ireland with the US, Canada and the UK when it came ashore at Portrush, Co Antrim.

‘Project Kelvin’, supported by €30 million in public funding, is a joint co-operation project between the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Belfast and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, which is partly financed by the EU under the North-South cross-border co-operation programme.

Cable connections

The Kelvin international telecommunications cable will be connected by high-capacity fibre to Letterkenny, Monaghan, Castleblayney, Dundalk and Drogheda, and it will also have points of presence in several locations across the border.

“Project Kelvin is an extensive submarine and terrestrial cable deployment directly connecting the island of Ireland to North America,” Fergus Innes, VP of Sales, EMEA for Hibernia Atlantic, explained.

“The initiative is to provide local and global commerce opportunities between the island of Ireland and the rest of the world, offering local and global businesses access to secure, ultra-low latency capacity. Businesses can now increase their communications’ speed, performance and next-generation internet service offerings while also increasing their network security by avoiding traditionally congested routes such as around the New York and London waterways.”

The Clonshaugh data centre

Eircom’s Clonshaugh data centre, which it leases from Digital Realty Trust, is equipped with the latest power, cooling, fire suppression and biometric security measures to protect customers’ systems, including those using new, power-hungry hardware such as blade servers.

The centre has been designed to be energy efficient, minimising power consumption by using the ambient external temperature to assist in cooling. The data centre is also making extensive use of the latest technology advances to effectively use “technology to manage technology”, including intelligent utilities for systems setup, monitoring, alerting and trouble ticketing.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Eircom will be able to provide direct fibre-optic connections from the Eircom data centre in Clonshaugh to the US and Canada under its deal with Hibernia Atlantic.

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