Ahern signals ‘death of distance from Dublin’

16 Dec 2003

Communications Minister Dermot Ahern TD has unveiled a new fibre optic network built in conjunction with the ESB and Esat BT that takes 40 major towns and cities in four provinces that will reduce the cost of broadband connections by eight times that currently available on the Irish market.

The network, which was built using National Development Plan funds, involves deals between the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and both ESB Telecom and Esat BT.

It is understood that individual ISPs, telcos and consortia will be able to draw down capacity from these framework deals on a wholesale basis.

ESB Telecom will be offering high-speed broadband packages including STM4 (622 Mbps) lines for €400,000 a year, STM1 (155Mbps) lines for €100,000 a year, Ethernet (100Mbps) lines for €50,000 a year and 34Mbps for €50,000 per annum.

In addition, 2.5Gbps wavelength products connecting Dublin to 26 regional towns will be made available on the Esat BT network.

Describing the two deals with ESB Telecom (ESBT) and Esat BT as key drivers of broadband outside Dublin, Minister Ahern TD said that the pricing on both deals was on a par with that available internationally and a fraction of what is currently available in the Irish market. He added that the pricing heralded the death of distance from Dublin.

“Some of the pricing on offer will be eight times lower than that currently available on the market. Furthermore, the product offerings will go a long way towards putting regional Ireland on a par with Dublin in terms of the availability and pricing of this very high-speed connectivity. The offerings will link regional Ireland to Dublin at low cost and high speed,” the Minister said.

All the pricing is point to point on ESB’s fibre wrap network. The new network consists of almost 1,300km of 48-fibre cable in a figure of eight loop around Ireland that takes in all four provinces and most major towns and cities. The Government and the European Regional Development Fund supported ESB’s construction of the network under the National Development Plan 2000-2006. The network was deployed alongside the ESB electricity transmission system.

Major towns and cities on the ESBT network include Cork, Mallow, Charleville, Limerick, Shannon, Ennis, Galway, Tuam, Roscommon, Carrick-on-Shannon, Sligo, Manorhamilton, Ballyshannon, Letterkenny, Buncrana, Dundalk, Drogheda, Portlaoise, Cavan, Dublin, Arklow, Wexford, Waterford, Dungarvan and Middleton.

The Esat BT offering involves an ultrahigh-speed product and leverages the investment made by the Government and Esat BT in its regional fibre network in recent years, including the investment in the Western Digital Corridor. The pricing in the Esat BT offering is designed to encourage connectivity to groups of towns. On average the cost per wavelength per annum is in the region of €150,000 to €200,000 per annum.

The cities and towns in the Esat BT offering are Mullingar, Athlone, Sligo, Tullamore, Roscommon, Ballina, Claremorris, Longford, Carrick-on-Shannon, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Thurles, Arklow, Enniscorthy, Gorey, Wicklow, Greystones, Bray, Portlaoise, Clonmel,Waterford, Cork, Clonakilty, Limerick and Galway.

By John Kennedy