Cable & Wireless invests in network expansion


14 Sep 2006

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Ireland’s third-largest telecoms operator Cable & Wireless is to invest an undisclosed sum in a multi-million expansion of its existing network in Ireland. The rollout will see the company invest in over 40 10GB circuits, otherwise known as STM-64 lines.

In an interview with siliconrepublic.com, Cable & Wireless managing director Noreen O’Hare explained that the investment is part of an overall strategy that will see the company’s customers move in the direction of pure-IP (internet protocol) communications.

She explained that the investment is being made possible through the sale and leaseback of the company’s Tallaght-based building. “The sale proceeds of the building will go into the company’s development in terms of staff training and the upgrade of the network,” O’Hare said.

Last September, Cable & Wireless acquired the Irish and UK operations of Energis in a transaction valued at around €914.6m. As a result, Cable & Wireless is now the third-largest telecoms operator in the Irish market. Following the acquisition, the combined company currently employs 140 people in the Republic.

In terms of the combined company’s market strategy in the Republic, O’Hare said that the company will focus on the higher end of the market such as corporate enterprises and public sector.

Asked whether the company will follow the trend that sees telcos evolve into ICT providers, O’Hare said that Cable & Wireless will work with business partners to rollout business applications such as SAP.

In particular, the company will work with Northern Ireland-based IT services firm Steria, which employs more than 10,000 people across Europe.

“Steria and Cable & Wireless have worked together on implementations in the past such as the Electronic Data Record Management System, which is the biggest public sector project in Northern Ireland to date, and we intend to continue in this relationship.”

In its attack on the big business and public sector markets in Ireland, O’Hare said that Cable & Wireless’ differentiation in the market will be hallmarked by a focus on strong customer service. “There is an overriding need to improve service levels in the Irish telecoms industry and we want our customers to understand what a reliable and robust telecoms service actually means. We want to show that telecoms is more than just a service at the end of a pipe.”

While voice over IP (VoIP) has been a fixture of the Irish telecoms market for the past two years, O’Hare believes that only lately are big businesses switching on to the technology. “At the higher end of the market in particular, adoption is happening at a much faster rate. This is why we are making the investment right now in the capacity of our transmission network in Ireland.”

O’Hare said that the company wants to leverage existing assets such as its 50,000 sq ft data centre in north Dublin as well as its Solas fibre network around Dublin to take advantage of opportunities posed by the arrival of major internet giants like Google, Amazon and eBay into Ireland. “We believe that the IDA are planning to bring more of these projects to Ireland and are ready.”

She pointed to the company’s Clonshaugh data centre which is currently at less than one third of capacity. “Data centres across Ireland are nearly maxed out. Some are reaching 80pc to 90pc capacity. At present only 15,000 sq ft of our facility is occupied. We have all that power and connectivity and can build out additional capacity as required.”

In conclusion, she said that the company is prepared to make use of the Irish Government’s €170m Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) capacity in more than 120 towns on a “case by case” basis. “We intend to expand to get close to regional towns and cities and will connect up to the various MANs on a customer-demand basis.”

By John Kennedy