Jail beckons for Smart Telecom

30 Jun 2006

The Irish Prison Service has awarded a contract to link 14 sites around the country on a single data network in a public procurement deal worth €900,000. Smart Telecom won the contract to supply the infrastructure.

The sites are Clover Hill, Wheatfield, Mountjoy, Cork, Limerick, Portlaoise, Castelrea, Shelton Abbey, Loughan House, Arbour Hill, Clonskeagh, a services division in Santry and the headquarters in Clondalkin. The network will also be connected to the Government network. The term of the contract is for three years with an option to review after the second year.

The Prison Service will procure a second network of equal status so that there will be redundancy built into the infrastructure. That project will also go out to public tender.

Among other functions, the new infrastructure will allow videoconferencing between the sites thanks to high availability of bandwidth that varies between 5Mbps connections up to Gigabit speeds, according to David Ralph, head of government services with Smart Telecom.

Ralph added that the new network would be easier to manage. In addition, because it has been built differently to the traditional approach, it costs less to run. Rather than each of the sites having to connect back in to a central point, all of the locations can ‘see’ each other on the network and are linked to each other in a mesh. “The network is more advanced than what was required,” Ralph told siliconrepublic.com.

“Effectively our solution behaves like all of these sites live on one device. Historically, they would have needed to have loads of hardware at all of the sites. Now, we can use hardware in Dublin to the advantage of Cork. It means massively lower hardware capital expenditure for the customer.”

Data traffic can be dynamically routed or segregated if needed and there are also provisions to provide quality of service to certain types of information. Any future changes that need to be made to the network can be made easily with no cost implication to the Prison Service, Ralph added.

The deal is a significant win for Smart Telecom, which announced the contract to the Stock Exchange earlier this week. The company has already won some €2m of public sector business, with 70pc of that booked in this calendar year alone.

Ralph said that the Prison Service network would not have been possible without the presence of the Metropolitan Area Networks around the country, in addition to the ESB backhaul infrastructure.

By Gordon Smith