The Friday Interview: Conal Henry, e|net

Press release
14th Apr 2006

Conal Henry is the new chief executive officer of e|net, the company responsible for managing the 27 towns in the first phase of the Government’s €170m investment in fibre infrastructure.

Can fibre rings around key towns such as the metropolitan area networks (MANs) resolve Ireland’s perceived broadband infrastructure deficit?

They will go a long way but are not the whole answer. More needs to be done for the business community and the residential market in mind. The economics of broadband depend on the services that are deployed over that connection. Because a lot of broadband is restricted to DSL over copper (which will be obsolete in 15 years), the full impact of high bandwidth is not being felt across the country. We need to start finding ways of getting fibre out to the community. In 10 years’ time Irish people will laugh at the suggestion of 256Kbps as a broadband connection. Proper broadband by today’s standards is 2MB.

As the new CEO of e|net what are your plans for the company?

I’m inheriting a company that is delivering against what it charged to deliver. I don’t intend to rewrite the business plan. I want e|net to be at the core of the 21st century network for Ireland in planning and deploying it. The reason we can do that is because e|net helps to pull together the disparate strands of service, infrastructure provision and technology development. The aim is to place Ireland at the cutting edge of communications. There’s some really good work going on right now and our job is to come up with a good result for Ireland Inc.

‘Triple play’ is the field that most telecom and cable companies aspire to partake in. What role will e|net play in this?

The aim is to provide telecom companies with up to 100MB as standard. To the average residential user such a speed is years away. I would use the analogy of optional extras on cars — the features of an S-class Mercedes today will be standard five years down the line on a Ford Focus. What’s used by large companies today will eventually filter down to residential users. In terms of triple play services, Magnet and Smart are using our MANs to deliver triple play right now to new housing developments and fibre optics is a far more efficient way of delivering these services than copper-based DSL.

By John Kennedy, Irish Independent