Kevin Thompstone, chief executive, Shannon Development and chairman, Shannon Broadband has hailed the completion of the 42km fibre ring or metropolitan area network around Limerick city as “a great asset to Limerick.”
The high-speed network was unveiled this morning by Dermot Ahern TD, Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. It was delivered on time and within budget.
The network connects all of the main business parks in Limerick City and surrounding areas, including Raheen Business Park, the National Technology Park Limerick, Annacotty Business Park, as well as business parks on the Dock Rd, Childers Rd, and Ballysimon Rd. The ring also serves the majority of public buildings in Limerick including local authority offices, hospitals, schools and third level institutes.
The network consists of two fibre optical rings – the East and West rings. Both rings emanate from the co-location centre in Shannon Development’s Tait Business Centre on Dominick St.
Speaking at the launch, Thompstone said: “The completion of the Limerick MAN is the first step for Shannon Broadband – a unique public services telecoms company – towards addressing the broadband deficits in the Shannon Region … It demonstrates the benefits of delivering large-scale infrastructural projects on a partnership basis.”
Shannon Broadband, a regional telecoms company led by Shannon Development, and comprising the local authorities of Limerick City, Limerick County, Clare, North Tipperary and Offaly – with the support of the Mid West Regional Authority – aims to develop a world-class telecommunications infrastructure in the region.
The organisation will now oversee the next phase of the rollout, the 9km extension of the network to the North side of Limerick city, due to be completed by the year end. The northern ring, when complete, will travel via the Shelbourne Rd out to the Limerick Institute of Technology and will return back to the co-Location centre via the Ennis Rd and Condell Rd.
Phase one of the project cost €5 million – 90pc of which was funded by the Department of Communications, Marine & Natural Resources. The second phase will be financed by savings made on phase one and through funding of €500,000 from the Department.
Thompstone predicted that the presence of broadband around the city would act as a magnet for investment. “The completion of the Limerick MAN is the first project roll-out in Shannon Broadband’s overall plans to deliver a regional fibre telecoms fibre backbone on a phased basis, to position the Shannon Region as a model region for broadband activity,” he said.
“Having this infrastructure in place will lead to more job creation, inward and indigenous investment in the Limerick area.”
Thompson added that Shannon Broadband was developing relationships with a number of telcos that would connect users to the fibre ring. It has Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with Aurora Telcom and ESB Telecom; is partnering with EsatBT on its DSL roll out programme and talking to other carriers about bringing to broadband connectivity across the Shannon region.
“We have commenced on a number of actions to address the need for providing broadband connectivity to all parts of the Shannon Region,” he said. “A current initiative – Shannon Connect – is being undertaken to ensure that there is region-wide affordable broadband throughout the Shannon Region. A cross functional team has been put in place with membership from Shannon Development and all the local authorities in the region to drive this initiative forward.”
Thompstone also said that Shannon Broadband had a keen interest in Minister Ahern’s recent announcement of further funding for broadband such as the Group Broadband Scheme, and welcomed the Minister’s on-going commitment to addressing the broadband question.
Shannon Broadband also welcomed Minister Ahern’s announcement that a Management Services Entity (MSE) would soon be appointed to manage, maintain and operate all of the Metropolitan Ares Networks nationally.
“We have always recognised that the MSE would be a significant element of the National broadband delivery system. Putting the fibre in the ground was just one part of the solution to the problem of providing competitively priced broadband for consumers,” said Thompstone.
By Brian Skelly