Irish government launches fibre network in Limerick

15 April 2003 Limerick, Ireland, Lightwave Europe -- Ireland's minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources has announced the start of the Limerick Metropolitan Network that is part of the Governments Metropolitan Areas Network Programme.

15 April 2003 Limerick, Ireland -- Ireland's minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources has announced the start of the Limerick Metropolitan Network that is part of the Governments Metropolitan Areas Network Programme.

"My aim is to place Ireland within the top 10% of OECD countries for broadband connectivity," Dermot Ahern TD, minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources said in announcing the project, which is one the most aggressive national broadband plans in the European Union.

The Limerick project is part of a EUR65m, 19-town national broadband initiative that is 90% funded by the Government under the National Development Plan 2000-2006 and co-funded by the EU under the European Regional Development Fund.

The EUR5m Limerick project involves the installation of a 44km underground fibre-optic ring in Limerick city and the surrounding area. The cable ring will provide a backbone Internet network into which service providers can link to provide a range of high-speed services to businesses, homes, schools, hospitals and other users. The project is due to be completed in May 2004.

The Limerick project will interconnect with existing fibre backbones and also connect to the Southern Fibre Loop section of the ESB Telecoms national backbone network, which the government is sponsoring under the National Development Plan.

In January, Mr Ahern inaugurated the Southern Loop of ESB's figure eight shaped national network. ESB will complete by year-end the entire 1,300-route km network, which will cover the country from Donegal to Cork. Money for the project came from ESB Telecom's parent company, Electricity Supply Board (ESB), which is 95% government owned.

ESB Telecom has built 960km of its planned 1,300 route km, 48-fiber network. The 960km of network includes the 600-route km Southern Ring and 360km of network that will form the Northern ring. The network is being built using wrap-around cable supplied by AFL Focas. The network uses SDH technology supplied by Ericsson. ESB is studying the use of DWDM and Gigabit Ethernet technologies.

ESB Telecom will operate as a carrier's carrier, targeting alternative operators such as Colt, Worldcom, NTL, and AT&T. The network will also be used for ESB's internal communications. It will be, according to Peter Kelly, marketing manager, ESB Telecoms, the only network offering dark fibre. "There is a lot of fibre but not a lot of available fibre that operators can lease," Mr Kelly said.

The Governments Metropolitan Areas Network Programme identifies 19 towns and cities around the country as broadband nodes. The ESB fibre network, when completed, will pass through 12 of those towns.

The southern Loop links Dublin , Limerick, Cork and Waterford, the Northern loop now under construction will travel north from Dublin through Dundalk across to Sligo and down to Limerick, a spur will link Donegal to the rest of the network. The entire project will be completed late this year.

By Kurt Ruderman, contributing editor, kurtruderman@wanadoo.fr

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