Govt’s newest fibre broadband network involves 64 patents

22 Apr 2010

A new high-speed fibre broadband network owned entirely by the Irish Government involves the ingenuity of a number of Irish-based companies and includes 64 revolutionary patents that will define future communications.

The Exemplar Test Bed, forged as part of a partnership between the Government and Intune networks involving a €5m investment and 80 new jobs, will utilise the technology invented in Ireland.

Intune’s technology – Optical Packet Switch and Transport – could potentially replace the thousands of silicon computer chips used in internet switches today. Essentially, they have invented a network for the high-speed, low-energy, high-quality transfer of data.

This technology can eliminate costly bottlenecks of data on networks. The dramatic reductions in the amount of energy they use make this technology an attractive prospect for major international companies.

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan TD announced that the Government would invest €5 million in Phase I of this project. The aim is that companies will use the test bed for Research and Development purposes.

Already, companies such as Eircom, EMC, Imagine, BT, IBM, ESB Telecom, E-Net, Firecomms, Openet and CeltixConnect have entered into discussions with the Department. UCD, DCU, UCC Tyndall, NUI Galway and Science Foundation Ireland have also expressed an interest in using this technology for their research purposes.

The test bed has 64 granted patents which secure the technology and which ensure that Ireland is the first country in the world to offer such a facility. The test bed is 100pc owned by the Government.

The test bed will be built in Parkwest Business Park in Dublin and will be open for business, on an open-access basis, in July of this year. Eighty jobs will be created directly in Phase I.

“Today we are investing in the new economy,” Ryan said. “This technology was invented in Irish universities and developed by an Irish company. It has the potential to revolutionise the internet, transferring data faster and in higher quality than previous technology.

“Their invention also vastly reduces the associated energy costs. It represents a very exciting prospect to test the applications and services of the future internet.

“Our partnership with Intune is unique. Government is making the initial investment, will own the test bed and will ensure it is operated on an open access basis, so that companies and universities can use the network for their own research and development.

“Last year, we launched our strategy for the development of the digital economy in Ireland. Less than a year later we will be up and running with a revolutionary new network that will position Ireland as an international test bed for high-tech, low-energy technology,” Ryan said.

“We are investing in ourselves, in our own ingenuity. We are betting on ourselves and in so doing helping to create the technology and jobs of tomorrow,” Ryan said.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan and Tim Fritzley, CEO, Intune

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