A US telecoms infrastructure company has struck a novel deal with the Football Association of Ireland that will see it provide funding for floodlights to local clubs in return for the ability to erect telecoms structures on the grounds of 500 clubs.
The innovative deal struck by US firm Shared Access and the FAI could extend to 500 football clubs across Ireland with a minimum investment of €30m.
The deal will result in world-class shared telecoms resources being located in urban and rural areas around Ireland, the Department of Communications said, welcoming the deal.
In a deal facilitated by the FAI, Shared Access will pay for and erect floodlights for local football clubs.
These floodlights will house state-of-the-art wireless antennas and where available fibre connections, enabling significantly enhanced broadband penetration and mobile phone coverage in the locality.
To date, 400 local clubs have applied for the scheme and it is expected that this figure will reach more than 500 by end 2010.
“Today’s partnership represents the best of collaborations,” Communications Minister Eamon Ryan TD said.
“It will bring better broadband and mobile coverage to areas across the country while lighting sporting fixtures. This is shared infrastructure at its best.
Of footie, fibre and floodlights
“The country will benefit from this excellent scheme. Though broadband penetration has trebled in the past three years, we will take every opportunity to continue this pace of progress. Broadband provision is central to our economic recovery.
“Competition for public funding means that innovative private investments, such as this one by Shared Access, are even more significant and beneficial. The overwhelming response from local communities is very encouraging.
“I commend Shared Access and the FAI on this partnership, which is both mutually beneficial and will reap wider benefits for the country. I would urge various operators to share their resources, bringing less waste, greater efficiencies and better results all round,” Ryan said.
Chris Jackman, CEO, Shared Access, said of the scheme: “This is an innovative initiative which allows Shared Access to significantly enhance Ireland’s telecoms infrastructure. Our management team’s experience in delivering shared telecoms infrastructure in both the US and Europe is extensive and we are now positioned to bring the benefit of that experience to Ireland.
“We are also clearly delighted to be able to help football clubs throughout Ireland as part of the deal. We are working with the FAI in local communities to offer schoolboy and junior football clubs funding for lighting, telecom, power and fibre connections.”
John Delaney, CEO, Football Association of Ireland, said the deal represents a step change in facilities for participating local clubs, “enabling them to train and play under lights in the dark winter months, providing significant investment for the football clubs at the heart of local communities. We are delighted to be working with Shared Access on this unique scheme.”