West of Ireland town gets economic supercharge with 250Mbps fibre speeds

7 Apr 2014

Conal Henry, CEO, E-net; Jimmy Flynn, president, Claremorris Chamber of Commerce; and Liam O'Kelly, CEO, AirSpeed

Claremorris, a town in Mayo with a population of 4,000 people that saw up to one-third of its businesses close during the recession, is to get an economic supercharge in the form of 250Mbps fibre connectivity as part of a €500,000 investment.

The returns on the investment – about what people would have paid to buy a large family home in the midst of the reckless property bubble – remain to be seen, but could potentially lead to businesses being able to grow revenues and generate employment.

Effectively they will have telecoms infrastructure the equivalent of, if not better than, many of their counterparts in large cities across Europe and the US.

E-net and AirSpeed Telecom jointly rolled out the infrastructure. E-net manages the Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs), which are fibre rings around 94 Irish towns, and AirSpeed Telecom is a provider of high-speed telecoms infrastructure for businesses.

Construction of the new E-net Fibre Direct network has begun and will be completed by August.

At this stage, about 50pc of local businesses have subscribed to the service.

E-net CEO Conal Henry told Siliconrepublic.com that the rollout could be replicated across any one of the 94 towns in Ireland if a similar uptake could be guaranteed.

“This is very much the market pilot and if demand holds up, then justification holds up.

“The MANs represent so much investment by the Irish Government that it would be vital to see this model replicated.”

Level playing field

Henry said broadband provides businesses in cities and rural towns with a level playing field, guaranteeing the ability for firms to prosper and grow and continue to provide local employment and retain people to spend in the local economy.

“A lot of companies are saying that if you can’t get fibre, then you’re just not on the grid.

“In the past, factories and businesses had to be located in big towns – now you can have centres of business anywhere you can get fibre infrastructure. This is a matter of economic necessity.”

AirSpeed Telecom CEO Liam O’Kelly said AirSpeed has developed skills and expertise in deploying fibre speeds both wired and wirelessly to locations that have been geographically hard to serve.

“Think of it this way: E-net has provisioned an M50 motorway into each business and we are running the trucks on that roadway. There is no reason why businesses in regional towns can’t compete on a level playing field.”

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