2017 – enet’s year in review
For a business that is always looking forward, it’s a slightly surreal experience to dwell on past achievements but given the time of year I can’t help but look back. Thankfully, I can only think of positives when it comes to our business. For enet, 2017 will go down as a year of continued investment, contract wins, new market developments, awards as well as the creation of exciting partnerships that will drive future growth for years to come.
On the investment front, enet announced substantial investment in the continued development of a national network connecting the Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) into an integrated telecommunications platform. This marked a breakthrough in providing a world class, open-access broadband network throughout the country, delivering higher speeds and greater network reliability. More recently, enet has announced the construction and activation of a “metro” fibre network in Newbridge, Co. Kildare which has already seen significant demand. Our 2017 investment programme brought total investment to over €100 million since 2014 and to my mind, establishes our infrastructure as the most comprehensive, competitive network in Ireland.
In terms of contract successes, we are particularly proud of our continued association with the “100Mbs For Schools” project. In 2017, we signalled the fact that were the single largest broadband network supplier to the project run by the national educational and research network, HEAnet on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. Digital applications can utterly transform the prospects of individual students and completely overhaul the entire educational landscape, so we are privileged to participate in the delivery of world-class broadband to these post primary schools. For enet, this project is all about bringing next-generation connectivity to the next generation.
2017 was the year that the company marked our first forays into other markets, namely Northern Ireland and then wider into the UK. 2017 was also a significant year of strategic partnering. Indeed, our recent entry into the UK resulted from a strategic network partnership with SSE Enterprise Telecoms, the UK’s leading provider of network infrastructure services and part of the SSE Group. The partnership sees enet utilising SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ full range of dark fibre, Carrier Ethernet and optical networking services across 13,700km of UK network.
As our relationship with SSE Group was emerging, it became apparent that we had similar visions and were like-minded organisations. This fed into another significant development - SSE’s addition to our National Broadband Plan (NBP) Consortium which now comprises of Granahan McCourt Capital, a worldwide investor in telecoms infrastructure, SSE plc, Ireland’s second largest energy utility and a leading infrastructure developer, as well as John Laing Group plc, the international originator, active investor and manager of infrastructure projects.
Another interesting development was announced between enet and SIRO. enet are now acting as a SIRO aggregator enabling our customers - broadband retail service providers - access to SIRO’s 100% fibre-optic network. This deal which complements our already deep fibre network, enhances our reach to end customer premises and allows us to offer a full end to end offering to all retail service providers, with Digiweb being a case in point. Digiweb now has access to an additional 27,000 fibre enabled premises in six regional towns - Tralee, Portlaoise, Newbridge, Naas, Castlebar and Carlow Town and is driving further competition in the broadband market.
It's always nice to have external validation of the work we do and 2017 saw enet named Technology Business of the Year at the All-Ireland Business All Stars Awards. The win was announced in front of more than 600 business-leaders at the awards presentation at Croke Park, where speakers included Mary Mitchell O’Connor, the then Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Recognition of this kind, underlines the everyday hard work of enet’s employees across our business, particularly gratifying in 2017, when we saw the company welcome our 100th staff member. I have long believed that wholesale telecommunications is not really about networks or technology, it’s about people. For me, the three things that matter are commitment, talent and experience - in that order and any organisation comprised of people who are genuinely committed to a vision and who apply their talents to it, will always do well. That’s why I think enet is so successful.
This team at enet and the successes we share underlines how much a dedicated team can achieve in a wholesale business. In 2017, we announced that over one million end users are now benefiting from our integrated fibre and wireless networks. The one million beneficiaries include mobile phone and device-users, students, residential users, public sector workers, as well as staff in multinational organisations. Right across the country, the company is improving the way people work and connect with the world by operating a wholesale platform for a range of voice, data and entertainment services – no small achievement.
And so, to 2018 and beyond. For the team at enet, it’s always about the next big challenge. We see huge potential in our model and believe there is a business of real scale here in Ireland – as well as truly bringing the business international. The enjoyment comes from putting us on an upwards trajectory towards that goal.
Right now, there are several opportunities and projects already in motion to help get us there. Real opportunities exist in supporting the need for increased state intervention in telecommunications infrastructure. On an international basis, this is driven by the criticality of communications infrastructure but also crucially, the weakness of the private sector business case. We feel enet is perfectly positioned to support and grow through further state interventions in the market – nationally via the National Broadband Plan (NBP) as well as internationally. Watch this space.