ESB to open its network to telecoms operators

18 Apr 2005

The ESB’s telecoms subsidiary is planning to open its countrywide fibre-optic backbone to other telecoms providers as part of its broader agenda to become a carriers’ carrier.

It is understood that ESB Telecoms has entered into an agreement with communications systems provider Damovo to rollout Axxedge consolidation units at a number of locations around the country.

These units will allow local telecoms service providers to connect to ESB Telecom’s 1,300km fibre backbone that runs alongside ESB’s power distribution lines. The network includes 14 points of presence and connections to several of the Irish Government funded metropolitan area networks.

The Axxedge products — made by Norwegian company Axxessit are cost effective units that can either be used to connect a backbone network to a local fixed wired or wireless network, or alternatively as a high-end integrated access device.

Each unit can be used as a terminal multiplexer, an add-drop multiplexer, a layer-two packet switch, an internet protocol wire-speed router or any combination of these. Network operators can choose either to purchase dark fibre connections from ESB Telecoms using these products or to enter into a managed-service agreement whereby ESB Telecoms takes responsibility for the operation of the network traffic.

ESB Telecoms is working towards a goal of being the carrier’s carrier, providing other licensed operators with the infrastructure to deliver connectivity to a variety of home internet users to SMEs and corporate clients. Included among ESB Telecoms’ customer base are wireless internet service providers, fixed-line telecoms operators and mobile operators.

In November, reported how ESB Telecoms struck a deal with cable operator NTL that will see the cable TV and internet services provider deploy broadband services to customers in Galway and Waterford on the back of ESB’s 1,300km fibre-optic network. Under the agreement, ESB Telecoms will supply bandwidth services between major nodes on its network to NTL, enabling it to reach other parts of its cable network areas in Ireland, particularly Galway and Waterford.

Take up of the Axxedge products has exceeded expectations, according to George Doherty, engineering and technology manager at ESB Telecoms. “When we first deployed this technology less than a year ago, we only intended to offer it in 14 main locations,” he said, “but we have already rolled it out to 30 locations.

“We expected a big take up of STM-1 links but many of our customers also want to link Ethernet to our backbone. We can now offer connectivity to anything from a 2Mbps E1 line to Gigabit Ethernet,” Doherty said.

By John Kennedy