Siro to bring 1Gbps broadband to 35,000 more homes in Ireland’s south-east

15 Mar 2018

From left: Dominique Astier, deputy CEO, Axione; Sean Atkinson, Siro CEO; Declan O’Neill, Obelisk CEO; Audrey O’Sullivan, general counsel, Siro; and Michael D’Arcy, Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for Financial Services and Insurance. Image: Julien Behal

Siro’s €20m investment will connect 10 more towns to its gigabit broadband network.

Siro has signed a €20m contract with the joint venture of French firm Axione and Irish player Obelisk to bring gigabit broadband to 35,000 more homes in 10 towns across Ireland’s south-east.

The contract will see Axione and Obelisk connect 10 towns – Gorey, Courtown, Enniscorthy, Newtown-Kilcoole, Wicklow, Arklow, Carrickmines, Shankill, Bray and Greystones – to Siro’s gigabit broadband network over the next two years.

‘Siro is future-proofing the broadband needs of Irish consumers and businesses with Ireland’s only 100pc fibre-optic broadband network’

Future Human

As a result, more than 35,000 homes and businesses in the towns will be able to access the most powerful broadband services in Ireland via Siro’s retail partners.

A glimpse at the future of fibre in Ireland

“Siro is future-proofing the broadband needs of Irish consumers and businesses with Ireland’s only 100pc fibre-optic broadband network,” explained Siro CEO Sean Atkinson.

Siro is a €450m joint venture between Vodafone and ESB, and it aims to pass 500,000 premises in 50 towns around Ireland by 2018. Using the existing ESB network, Siro is delivering fibre-to-the-home 1Gbps broadband directly to premises.

The company has formed partnerships with Vodafone, Sky Ireland, Carnsore Broadband, Digiweb, Rocket Broadband, Airwire, Kerry Broadband and Westnet, with more retailers expected to come on board as the company drives competition in the wholesale broadband market.

“Following a successful trial of 2,000 homes in Bray last year, we are delighted to be with Axione whose expertise, combined with that of Obelisk’s successful delivery of over 17,000 homes over the last two years, will be vital in achieving this vision in the south-east,” Atkinson continued.

“With over 165,000 homes and businesses already able to access gigabit broadband services powered by Siro, we are already seeing tremendous benefits in towns like Skibbereen where O’Donnell Design, a furniture company, has seen their volume of work jump by 25pc as their capacity to do business with international hotel chains has been bolstered.”

Siro famously was the first shortlisted consortium to withdraw from the National Broadband Plan last September, followed by Eir in January.

The structure of its working arrangement with Obelisk and Axione, which has extensive experience deploying public initiative broadband works in France to 7m people, offers a tantalising glimpse of what might have been.

Obelisk is a Cavan-based company with an operations centre in Ballycoolin, Dublin. It has already delivered fibre-optic infrastructure for Siro in Drogheda, Balbriggan and Swords for the past two years as part of the roll-out of its gigabit broadband network.

Axione, part of the Bouygues Energies and Services Group, is a major player in digital infrastructure, providing design, build and operating services for mobile and fibre operators, and developing public initiative networks (PINs) in partnership with states and public authorities.

Over the past 10 years, it has installed 22,000km of networks to reduce inequality of internet access in France as part of the PINs led by French local and regional authorities.

The PINs in which Axione is involved represent approximately €2bn in investment and serve 7m people, 6,500 municipalities and 310,000 businesses.

Ireland joins Gabon and the Ivory Coast as Axione’s third country outside of France.

“Axione is delighted to be partnering with Obelisk for delivery to Siro of 100pc fibre-optic broadband to these 10 towns, designing and building a network that will meet the requirements of local communities and businesses for decades ahead,” said Dominique Astier, deputy CEO of Axione.

“We are committed to bringing the expertise we have gleaned in France to Ireland to help contribute to the construction of Siro’s network, which is first of its kind in Europe.”

Obelisk CEO Declan O’Neill added: “As an Irish company, we are delighted to bring our international learnings to bear, having developed a specialised workforce of engineers and support staff after growing our business over the past number of years.”

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