Rollout of Ireland’s dark fibre network to generate 277 new jobs

3 Dec 2011

Some 277 new jobs are to be created in the rollout of dark fibre across Ireland by PiPiper Infrastructure, which is deploying the infrastructure as part of an overall €88m investment plan.

As cloud computing and network-centric business models grow and grow nations like Ireland will be hard-pressed to ensure that cities and towns are linked to data centres and international data links via dark fibre in order to attract and retain inward investment and give local firms a fighting chance.

At present over 94 towns are circled with fibre in the form of metropolitan area networks (MANs) managed by E-net and connected nationally and internationally by fibre backhaul.

But the next phase of development requires abundant supply of dark fibre to future-proof the country for decades as the digital economy’s inexorable advance continues.

Eddie Kilbane, CEO of PiPiper Infrastructure, explained that the company is privately funded to the tune of €88m by private investors in the US and Ireland who view this infrastructure as fundamental to the country’s economic future.

PiPiper will work with the National Roads Authority and various local authorities to put dark fibre into ducts across the country to create a nationwide dark fibre network that will then be made available to telecoms firms to serve businesses and communities with next generation network services.

PiPiper is also working with Emerald Networks, which is raising US$300m to build a transatlantic data network between New York, Iceland and Ireland that will come ashore at Belmullet, Mayo, and will be cable of carrying 60 terabytes of data. The transatlantic network will be operational by Spring 2013 and could be pivotal in securing next generation financial and digital media investment projects that will create thousands of jobs along Ireland’s west coast counties.

“We are working with bodies like the NRA and the core of our operating model is to deploy the fibre with the minimum of disruption by concentrating on maximum cooperation during the civil engineering phase,” Kilbane explained. He said that the model has already been proven in Dublin where some €170,000 worth of fibre was deployed to connect emergency services in cooperation with Dublin City Council and that this model is now considered international best practice.

Kilbane said PiPiper is in talks with significant telecoms players active in Ireland and the first phase of the project will involve creating a fibre ring that will connect major midlands towns like Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar with dark fibre.

Opportunity for Ireland to be at the centre of the digital world

“The project will generate 47 full time jobs and 230 jobs in the construction of the network,” Kilbane explained. “The overall budget for the project is €88m, which is being provided by private investors. Our plan is to deliver this network by Spring 2013 and give Ireland a fully operational dark fibre network. The midlands ring will be live in time for this Summer.

The company is also working closely with Intune Networks to deploy fibre virtualisation and tuning technologies to intelligently handle data traffic volumes.

“The country of Ireland needs this network as soon as possible,” Kilbane concluded.

“This network is an opportunity to make Ireland Europe’s digital centre for all data and financial transfers between Europe and North America.”

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