Second phase under way for regional broadband scheme

27 Jan 2005

Phase II of the regional broadband programme has been launched and the Government has revealed the winner of a tender process for managing and advising on the project. The contract is worth €2.5m over three years to the end of 2007.

The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey TD announced Magnum Opus, a telecoms consultancy based in Dublin, as programme manager and technical advisor for the second phase of the regional broadband programme, following an open tendering process. There had been 12 expressions of interest in the tender from a mix of indigenous and international firms.

Magnum Opus is headed by several senior executives of Formus Communications, which set up in Ireland as a fixed wireless service provider in the late Nineties but which subsequently folded in 2001.

The Dublin firm will advise the department on network design and will oversee the management of the construction phase for the 35 regional towns that were approved last month to receive broadband infrastructure. Magnum Opus’ role extends only to the second phase of the project; it does not overlap with that of E-Net, the consortium that provides managed services for the 26 metropolitan area networks (MANs) to which these towns will connect.

Construction for the current phase of the regional broadband project, in partnership with the Local Authorities, will begin over the coming months and most projects should be completed in 12 months, the Department said. All projects will be 90pc grant aided by the Government under the National Development Plan and co-funded by the EU from the European Regional Development Fund.

The 35 towns that have been or will be connected to the backbone network running through the country over the course of the year are: Athenry, Ballinasloe, Ballybofey/Stranolar, Bantry, Blarney, Carrigaline, Castleisland, Castlerea, Claremorris, Clifden, Clones, Cobh, Dingle, Furbo, Kenmare, Kildare, Killarney, Kinsale, Listowel, Longford, Maynooth, Midleton, Mitchelstown, Navan, Nenagh, Newbridge, Passage West, Rathangan, Ringaskiddy, Sallins, Skibereen, Tralee, Tramore, Trim, Youghal.

Minister Dempsey said in a statement: “This next phase of the MANs will deliver high-quality-open access broadband infrastructure to every corner of the country and ultimately lead to greater choice and cost savings for home and business users.”

By Gordon Smith