Ireland’s first wireless town goes live

25 Apr 2007

Carlow will become the country’s first wireless-enabled broadband town later today as a result of a collaboration between metropolitan area network (MAN) provider e-Net and Carlow County Council.

The new network will be deployed three years ahead of Dublin’s proposed Wi-Fi network and will cover 50pc of businesses and 10pc of homes in Carlow town.

The Wi-Fi mesh network will allow users to access broadband for around €3 a day or around €15 a month.

Wi-Fi providers Brisknet, Aptus and Bitbuzz will be the initial service providers targeting services in the town with more predicted to come on stream later.

The network comes about as part of a collaboration between e-Net and Carlow County Council and is made possible through the use of equipment from Tropos Networks supplied by Sigma Wireless and with help from Azotel and ESB Contracts.

“This is a landmark day for Carlow town. This new W-Fi network opens up a whole new world of potential to Carlow citizens,” said Michael Abbey, chairman of Carlow County Council

“Carlow County Council is very proud to have co-developed and facilitated the deployment of this network using the local authority MAN and as a result we will be looking at new innovative ways of providing services to all of our citizens.”

E-net is the firm charged with running the 27 Government-funded MANs located in principal towns around Ireland.

The company’s chief executive Conall Henry, speaking to last week, said that the MANs are already credited with helping to stimulate foreign direct investment (FDI) in Ireland’s regions.

Pointing to statistics from IDA Ireland, he said that in 2004 only 20pc of new jobs were announced in the 27 phase one towns where MANs have been built. This increased to 40pc in 2005 and 60pc in 2006. “I would never say that that was down to the MANs on their own but I have to believe that we are having some impact.

“Government and IDA policy are driven to support these towns but we have customers signing up to the MANs to deliver high-end telecoms services to multinational customers. A year ago IDA chief executive Sean Dorgan actually said that telecoms is no longer a barrier to FDI.”

Henry stressed that the MANs were never intended to create an alternative to local loop unbundling and that LLU is an issue that isn’t going to disappear any time soon.

“Businesses that locate in the regions are now getting the high-speed services they want. However, the next battle will centre around enabling those companies’ executives to work from home if they wish and for that we need a combined effort on the part of the telecoms industry to ensure that broadband is available in all parts of Ireland.”

By John Kennedy