US$15m UK-Ireland fibre network begins rollout today

12 Dec 2011

'Cable Innovator', the ship used to lay the cable connecting Ireland and the UK with state-of-the-art fibre loaded in Dublin's docks this morning. Laying of the cable will begin this afternoon at 3pm

A US$15m sub-sea network connecting Ireland and the UK will begin the process of being laid from Dublin today – the first sub-sea cable laid in 11 years. The network will take 48 hours to lay between north Dublin and Anglesey in Wales.

The network, which comes into being after two and half years of rigorous preparation by CeltixConnect and its owners Sea Fibre Networks, promises to be Europe’s most advanced sub-sea network.

The route between Dublin and Anglesey is the shortest route and will be pivotal in the deployment of latency (speed) -sensitive digital and financial services in Ireland, and thereby vital to future foreign direct investment (FDI) efforts.

A spokesman said the network will be switched on within two days.

“The laying of the cable was planned to begin on Friday but because of stormy seas it had to be postponed until today. It will take just 48 hours to lay. So within two days the network could go live.”

Demand for high-speed fibre

When live, the sub-sea network will reduce 100km off existing sub-sea cables to reduce latency.

The new fibre network will more than double the existing capacity connecting Ireland and the UK.

“CeltixConnect delivers connectivity that is a game changer not only for business and industry but for everyday life on the net,” Diane Hodnett, CEO of Sea Fibre Networks, explained. “Smartphones, Facebook, online gaming and cloud-based services, all of which didn’t exist 10 years ago when the last cables were laid into and out of Ireland and the UK.

“Demand and traffic volumes related to the internet double every two years and legacy networks globally are straining to accommodate the ever-increasing demand. This is evidenced by the massive customer interest we have experienced,” Hodnett said.

The CeltixConnect network will land at East Point Business Park and the IFSC, requiring 5km of terrestrial backhaul before connecting with other fibre networks in Dublin.

It also intersects with the T50 metropolitan area network that links key business districts, data centres and business parks in Dublin.

The cable will land at Anglesey, a recently announced enterprise zone for the energy sector in Wales, and then connects with Manchester, London and onwards to mainland Europe.

Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte, TD, said Ireland’s continued success in attracting digital services’ foreign direct investment is dependent on its ability to deliver on the fundamentals of high=capacity communications infrastructure. “The most critical of which is a modern sub-sea cable capable of transporting content and data in and out of the country securely and at the highest speeds,” he said.

Expanding the digital world

Demand in the corporate sector is being driven by the mounting adoption of cloud computing, including online business applications , video and online storage and back up. These demand drivers are pushing the expansion of a digital world, founded on a fibre infrastructure of secure, high-capacity communications and highly available data centres. In addition, video-on-demand, IPTV peer-to-peer video and internet video is forecast to represent nearly 90pc of all consumer traffic by 2012.

More than two years of music can pass through each fibre per second, at 72 fibres, that is more than a lifetime of easy listening in a second. Some 28 days of video can go through per second, or the entirety of Wikipedia in the same second.

Welsh Assembly Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science Edwina Hart described the European sub-sea cable connection as great news for North Wales.

“This investment in such critically important infrastructure can only bring benefits to businesses in the region, providing access to international network connectivity. It is welcomed by the Welsh government and will help make businesses more competitive while such connectivity is always an attraction for inward investment projects. It has the potential to support the development of the Energy Island project on Anglesey, which is also the preferred location for an enterprise zone,” Hart said.

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