e|net, Ireland’s largest open access network operator and the company responsible for managing the State’s fibre-optic Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs), has welcomed the passage of new legislation which gives the National Roads Authority (NRA) the power to grant telecoms companies access to ducting running along the country’s motorways and other primary roads.
Responding to the legislation change, e|net CEO, Conal Henry said, “This legislation change is a very welcome development and Minister Eamon Ryan is to be warmly commended for pushing this vital infrastructural reform through. It makes sense as it enables the NRA to set conditions which will balance the needs of telcos whilst ensuring the safe operation of the national roads. e|net recognises that duct utilisation cannot be allowed to interfere with the primary function of the roads and we are very confident that this can be achieved”.
Mr. Henry added, “The new legislation offers a series of practical advantages but crucially it will increase the potential to provide backhaul connectivity for some of the smaller MAN towns where competitive backhaul does not exist. Additionally, it will avoid costly duplication of road openings by multiple telecom operators”.
He said this move would also be a key factor in facilitating the proposed one-stop-shop promised by Minister Ryan whereby all State-owned ducting and fibre (running under motorways and along rail, gas and electricity networks, for example) would be administered by a single State entity, thereby streamlining access by telecoms companies to accelerate the roll-out of broadband services.
The newly passed legislation is an amendment to the Communications (Regulation) Act 2002 enabling the NRA to provide a formal framework to make ducts on national roads and motorways accessible to telcos. Historically under the old legislation, the NRA would have had to bear any losses and liabilities incurred from third party works on the road network. In contrast, the new wording instructs that any losses and liabilities which are caused by any act undertaken by the network operator can be passed back to the network operators.