Broadband network services provider 360-networks yesterday opened a $70 million (#80.1 million) cable landing station in Clonshaugh Industrial Estate in Dublin that will connect Ireland to North America and Europe via a 12,200 km undersea fibre optic cable.
Known as 360atlantic, the $850 million network will be the first transatlantic fibre optic cable with a direct landing site in Ireland. A 5,600 km cable will link Dublin with Halifax and a second 240 km cable will connect Dublin and Liverpool.
The network, which can handle up to 25 million simultaneous telephone calls to and from Ireland, will enter commercial service in the first quarter of 2001.
360networks is also building a 20,000 sq ft Internet exchange centre in Clonshaugh which will allow data and telecoms firms to connect their regional networks and applications with its network. The first phase should be completed by the end of the year, creating up to 80 jobs.
"Ireland will soon be an important gateway between Europe and our networks in North America, South America and Asia," said Mr Ashwin Chitamun, vice-president of Europe at 360networks.
Introducing the cable landing station, the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, said firms providing broadband services were vital to Ireland's economic prosperity in the information age.
"This network also represents another significant step towards realising our objectives of reducing costs for bandwidth and lowering the barriers to e-business," he said.