Return to the telco fray for ESB


27 Feb 2003

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ESB’s southern loop fibre optic network is open for business. Its principal customers will be fixed-line operators, mobile operators – for back haul and the wireless network businesses.

Speaking to siliconrepublic.com, ESB spokesman, Peter Kelly says the project could be seen as a joint strategy with the Government’s plans to spend €65m on the first phase of its regional broadband strategy to build fibre optic networks in 20 towns and cities.

Previous ESB activity in the communications sector included a stint as co-owners of communications company Ocean. Before that it was part of a consortium that made an unsuccessful bid for the second 2G licence.

The new loop links Dublin to Waterford, Dublin to Shannon and Waterford to Limerick and Cork and is part of a plan to roll out 1,300km of fibre optic cable across the regions. It’s hoped that the entire network will be completed before the end of this year.

The network consists of 48 fibres (24 pairs, each of which is capable of delivering 2.5GB) wrapped around the ESB’s high voltage network using a technology has been used extensively in Europe and is said to be up to 10 times more reliable than equivalent underground networks.

The project began three years ago, in 2000 when the ESB signed a IR£10m contract with AFL Focas to provide infrastructure that would assist all regions of the country to attract high-tech industry by building a nationwide fibre optic telecommunications network along its transmission and distribution network.

In the same year, the ESB formed a telecommunications division in the engineering and commercial business unit to manage and develop this area, including broadband, third-generation mobile and the provision of antennae towers for the telecoms industry.

By Suzanne Byrne