e|net, the Irish owned company which holds the concession to operate Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) built by the Government in 27 towns across the country, has been selected as preferred bidder by the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) to manage the next phase of the MANs covering an additional 66 towns.
The appointment as preferred bidder means that e|net and DCENR aim to finalise negotiations on a contract by early autumn this year. “This announcement is a real validation of the huge strides made by e|net in Phase 1 of the MANs Programme. We look forward to delivering the same exciting results for the Phase 2 towns”, the CEO of e|net, Mr. Conal Henry said today (Thurs. June 26th).
Speaking at a Press Briefing in Dublin, he said that the provision of high speed broadband in these 66 towns via the MANs would depend on a number of factors. “The outcome for each town will depend on the time at which the network is handed over, the business plans of the various telecoms operators in that area, and the availability of backhaul to connect the MANs in each town to the wider, global network”’
“Our experience with Phase 1 is that, over time, the existence of a MAN has a major impact on the range, quality and value of communications solutions for homes and businesses in the area”.
The Chairman of e|net, Mr. Eoin O’Driscoll, welcomed the selection of the company as the preferred bidder by the Department. “We see this as a vindication of the success to date of the Phase I MANs programme. Confirmation of our preferred bidder status comes exactly four years after we were awarded the contract to operate Phase I. The latest data for the level of business on the MANs not only confounds early critics of the project, but demonstrates the success of the MANs project in addressing market failure”.
Conal Henry disclosed that no fewer than 32 different telecoms operators are now using the MANs as a platform for delivering their broadband services to customers. Major clients now include Vodafone, BT, C&W, Verizon, Magnet and Smart. Recently, e|net signed a 10-year, seven figure deal with UPC to enhance that company’s capacity to connect its triple play bundle to businesses and homes using the MANs in Athlone, Carlow, Portlaoise and Sligo. “That deal also underscores the importance of the MANs network to the development of next generation services”.
“The MANs are playing a vital role in promoting greater regional foreign direct investment (FDI) projects, and over 600,000 people throughout Ireland now have telecommunications services delivered daily using the MANs”, he added.
Analysis of IDA job announcements show that Phase 1 MAN towns have increased their share of IDA-backed FDI from 24% of total jobs created in 2004 to 89% in 2007. Other research undertaken by e|net last year revealed that:
- 32,000 private sector jobs rely directly on the MANs for communications;
- 17,000 public servants also rely on the MANs for their communications;
- 40,000 homes and businesses use the MANs indirectly;
- 90,000 third level students rely on the MANs for their ICT infrastructure at college;
- There are an estimated 400,000 mobile users relying on the MANs every day.
e|net has also been instrumental in bringing competitive backhaul solutions to MAN towns through use of BT and ESBT. The result is e|net is now able to offer 24 of the 27 MANs as a fully integrated and interconnected network.
Referring to the financial performance of e|net, Conal Henry stated that e|net doubled its annual revenues in the two years up to April 2008; to €7.2 million. “I am projecting that revenues in the year ending in April 2009 will exceed €10 million”, he added.
With the MANs programme is still in the development phase, the net outcome before book adjustments was an EBITDA loss of €0.5m in the financial year to April 08. However, Conal Henry is confident the company will move into operating profit before the end of the calendar year.