Cost of laying cables too high in Ireland, says telecom executive

 

THERE IS no joined-up thinking about the development of telecoms in Ireland and the cost of building infrastructure is still too high, according to Gary Keogh, managing director of Colt Telecom, the business telecoms company which celebrates 10 years in the Irish market this year.

Colt Telecom invests on average €1-€2 million a year in building infrastructure but, while other business costs have fallen in Ireland in the last few years, the “cost of digging” to lay telecoms cables is “still very high”, according to Mr Keogh.

“If people are digging up the street to lay cables, they should be putting in more capacity than they need,” said Mr Keogh. “The biggest inhibitor for telecoms investment in this country are the civil construction costs.”

Dublin’s East Wall Road, where Colt’s office is based, has been dug up eight times in the last eight years, according to Mr Keogh.

Some local authorities are “very progressive” in making ducting available to telecoms firms and other service providers when building new roads and developments, he said.

Colt recently expanded its network to the Ballycoolin Industrial Park in Dublin’s Blanchardstown, using ducting provided by the local council.

Mr Keogh also said the high cost of telecoms generally is costing employment in Ireland and prevents more call centres being established here to service overseas markets. He says it can cost up to 30 cent a minute to route a call to Ireland from mobile users in certain European countries. “If you are offering a free-phone number to people in their local market, that’s a big cost to have to bear,” said Mr Keogh.

Colt specialises in business telecoms services and its pan-European network passes 15,000 premises in 34 European cities and also includes its own 19 data centres.

Mr Keogh said the Irish operations primarily provide services to large multinationals and financial trading firms.

The speed and extent of Colt’s network into Europe is the reason it is able to win so much of that business.

Its parent has signed a partnership with VMware which allows it to offer a range of cloud computing services. While Colt makes its cloud platform available in Ireland, Mr Keogh said the “take-up of cloud computing here is very slow. Irish companies are still reluctant to put their mainstream applications in the cloud.” Colt Telecom employs 42 staff in Ireland.