Magnet reveals partners for digital entertainment offer

2 Feb 2005

Magnet Networks has announced a series of alliances aimed at putting in place the infrastructure to deliver digital telephony, internet and entertainment services to Irish consumers over fibre-optic cable.

Eight companies specialising in various elements of infrastructure and technology are helping Magnet to provide what are known as multi-play services in the Irish market. Last November Magnet announced a deal with property firms Gannon Homes, Menolly Homes and Killoe Developments to supply fibre-based digital services to an estimated 10,000 new homes in the Grange section of the newly developed Capital North town in Dublin. “There is more to come; this is just the start,” said Magnet CEO Ingvar Gardarsson at the announcement.

Magnet plans to sign similar deals with other housing developers, whereby it would provide fibre, cabling and customer access equipment at no cost to the builder, who could then market the houses as being ready for services such as digital TV, broadband internet access and low-cost telephone calls. However, Magnet did not reveal the identity of other property developers it has made agreements with as contracts have yet to be signed.

Magnet is initially targeting new building developments as it is easier and cheaper to install the necessary fibre-optic cables while houses and apartments are still being built. The company has said that it has the option to provide its services to existing developments in future phases of its rollout plans, if there is sufficient customer demand.

“Developers are beginning to understand the demands of people living in the 21st century,” said Liam O’Halloran, chief operations officer with Magnet Networks. “We’re finding that people are seeing value in the extra services that fibre-optics can bring.” Other services offered over Magnet’s infrastructure could include video on demand, online gaming or high definition TV, he added.

O’Halloran said that Magnet expects takeup of the services among the customer base to be “north of 90pc” in areas where homes are already enabled with a fibre-optic connection. He claimed that, at €29.90 per month for 2Mbps broadband download and upload, the Magnet internet service via fibre to the home was at a lower price than a comparable service from Eircom’s DSL offering, which is delivered over the existing phone network.

Gary Keogh, managing director of COLT Telecom, said: “From an Irish perspective, this is an innovative solution. It’s where we should be on broadband – not copper wire or DSL.”

Gardarsson added: “If you see the European broadband figures released every three months, you don’t need to be too clever to see the opportunity in Ireland on the broadband side of things. Adding the TV part is a bonus for the consumer.”

Magnet also provided details of each partner’s contribution to its service. Aurora Telecom is providing an extensive network throughout Dublin City, as well as services that include all civil works, fibre splicing and testing required to deliver the services. Aurora will also provide round-the-clock maintenance cover on the fibre infrastructure from Magnet’s data centre through to the customer premises.

COLT Telecom is partnering with Magnet to provide telephony and internet connections for the residential and business market. COLT has a 160km fibre network in the Dublin area. Global Voice is supplying Magnet with access to the T50 broadband fibre network that runs along Dublin’s M50 motorway.

Nordic broadband provider Industria is supplying Magnet with a range of turnkey and customised solutions that includes broadband systems, software and digital media, including TV programming and video-on-demand services. Industria is also providing the physical infrastructure such as the cabling for the Grange development and is providing training to local technicians for laying fibre optic cables in future.

Magnet has also signed up as a member of INEX, the internet exchange used by Irish internet service providers (ISP) and content providers. This will give Magnet economical, fast and efficient national and international connections to other ISPs. Another partner company, Broighter Networks, is supplying Magnet with a connection to the INEX. Broighter will also provide Magnet with high-bandwidth links to other service providers or partners.

PacketFront is providing the access equipment that Magnet will install in residential and business customer premises. Industria has already used PacketFront hardware in its existing markets in the Nordic region. Lastly, the UK systems integrator Total Network Solutions is providing Magnet with a redundant core network as well as maintenance services and remote secondary monitoring and management.

By Gordon Smith