Description / Explanation

enet built a EUR 650 000 fibre network in rural North Kerry to a previously underserved population. Since its deployment, enet's network now delivers one Gigabit-per-second broadband to over 350 premises. Of this approximately 97% are residential. End users now have a range of affordable solutions from a choice of service providers, a fact that is facilitated by enet’s open access model.

Project submitted by

Colleen O'Donnell
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Infrastructure & Service

Speed / performance
≥100 Mbps
Infrastructure, technology and architecture
The project is a Fibre To The Home (FTTH) deployment with a Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) architecture capable of delivering 1 Gigabit connectivity to each premises providing scalable, future-proofed bandwidth. Significantly, a fundamental cornerstone was the re-use of third party infrastructure - namely the incumbent's pole and duct infrastructure. A combined Residential Gateway (RG) and Wholesale Customer Premise Equipment (WPCE) is located in the customer’s premises - the chosen CPE was Calix's Gigacenter. The single unit terminates the Wholesale or GPON transport service and the Retail Service Provider (RSP's) services, including carrier class Wi-Fi, voice and data service for multi-media devices. The Gigacentre separates voice and data traffic in separate Vitual Local Area Networks (VLANs) and applies Quality of service (QoS) markings for efficient transport over the backhaul network. enet transport the data and voice traffic across its backhaul network and hands them back to RSP at pre-agreed data-centres on an ENNI (Ethernet Network to Network Interface). The ENNI can be 1G or a 10G port. The infrastructure of the poles is both of resilience and robustness which ensure for an efficient maintenance process. This technology has been used and managed over numerous years, proving that the technology is effective. This results in reduced disturbance for both the retailer and the end-user.


Cost structure and financing sources
This deployment was financed from a mix of shareholder funds and previously raised debt - it typically raised debt from a local, commercial bank (Bank of Ireland), as well as the EIB via it's Innovfin Programme. As regards demand aggregation, the project worked with all Retail Service Providers, especially those who already had an installed based in the area to ensure that these end customers would be offered an affordable migration path to the newly installed fibre services - that way it ensured that initial demand was high. Following from that we organised some local events - including a network launch event.
Sources of EU funding
The GPON architecture supports one Gigabit-per-second broadband and therefore is already enabling the EU gigabit ambition target of 2025.
The FTTH network is underpinned by a newly tested pole infrastructure from a third party infrastructure owner, as well as newly deployed proprietary pole infrastructure - all of which will undergo regular, repeated, preventative maintenance. The newly developed wholesale product proposition is allowing enet to sell to premises previously unavailable and extend the user base while giving them access to world class fibre infrastructure enabling superfast broadband. In this case, the project created a suite of wholesale products that are applicable to the telecom needs of residential users and SME’s and already a mix of end users are utilising the services - businesses / retail / leisure / educational / residential.


Actors involved and their roles
There were a number of interested parties in this project and it was enet's ambition to create a coalition, willing to ensure that it happened on-time and budget and delivered to customers and end-users alike. enet (acted as project funders and operator of network), Kelly Communication (Contractor for the building and initial customer installations), eir (third party infrastructure provider), Carriers customers (currently 6 providing service over the network), End-users, the Local Authority, Kerry County Council (road opening consents), as well as the National Road Authority (road opening consents). These groups needed a clear communication strategy and appropriate channel messaging to ensure that the project met deadlines and expectation and enet's business development team (a mix of commercial, infrastructure and communications) delivered this activity.
Unique characteristics
Network operation and service provision are becoming structurally separated globally, and telecom carriers are increasingly looking to wholesale operators as partners they can trust and with whom they can develop. The company facilitates this through operating the Kerry FTTH project on a truly open-access, wholesale only basis, meaning that all authorized telecom carriers, regardless of scale, can have access to the infrastructure on the same basis. Even at a Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) level, a unique component was added to further underline the wholesale credentials and facilitate carrier customers while minimising truck-roll, installation activity and service delivery headcount. For this deployment, the project selected the experience and expertise of Calix, the world's largest telecommunications vendor focused solely on access solutions. Calix have developed equipment solutions specifically for open access network operators utilised in this deployment - namely the Calix Gigacenter which acts as a "one box solution" having both wholesale and retail functionality. This was truly unique for a project of this type to ensure that all retail services - of any scale - could participate on this FTTH network.
Success factors
The key factors underpinning a successful strategy to allow remote areas to close the gap with urban counterparts are:
a) access to infrastructure / services;
b) relevant content online;
c) access to suitable hardware;
d) affordability;
e) enhanced digital literacy skills and
f) promotion of services.

For the purposes of clarity, given budget constraints and the relatively modest nature of the deployment, enet focused on building the infrastrastrure and offering it to end users with a zero connection fee (remove a potential barrier to subscription) - so in this regard, a world class network was constructed to allow access to superfast broadband. Following on from that, the project worked with the Retail Service Providers to create a series of wholesale products that in turn, would make the retail products affordable. Additionally, it offered 3 months free services for a 12 month contract and 6 months free services for a 24 month contract - thus further incentivising the market.
Business model
concession model

Project review

This project has enabled to extend the coverage, quality of service and penetration among households and SMEs, enabling better access to online public services and offering one Gigabit-per-second broadband to over 350 premises. Of this, 95% are residential. To date, and in a relatively short period, it has achieved over 30% penetration rate and, more importantly, this has been achieved on a genuinely commercial basis (other comparative FTTH rollouts were brought to market as trails and offered free of charge). SMEs like Ballyseedy Home & Garden Centre comment on the service that has transformed the business: “Not only is the customer benefiting from the high-speed broadband connection, the business is thriving from online sales and the efficiency the speeds bring to the office”. Nathan McDonnell explains: “Gone are the days of frustrated office staff waiting 5 to 6 minutes to send emails with large attachments or receive emails. enet has provided fibre optic cable of 100Mb of broadband speeds which has enable us to grow our e-commerce with our new website.”
The open access model facilitates multiple carriers and their offerings, such as high bandwidth broadband services and voice telephony on one network. This model is contrary to traditional operators’ exclusivity of network, and stimulates competition in a way that has not previously been possible. In this area alone, there are now 6 carriers using this FTTH network - this is great news for end users who now have access to a range of quality and competitive services that previously did not exist. To ensure the service was affordable, enet provided 3 months free with a 12-month contract and 6 months free with a 24-month contract, along with a free connection. Overall, this connection has had a positive impact on employment, business creation and retaining population.
Technical potential for expansion, future proof infrastructure
The two options available for the enet wholesale transport products are a) 250/50 DL/UL Mbps and b) 1Gb/200 DL/UL Mbps. Both wholesale products included voice channels which were prioritised. Prior to our network deployment services over the legacy copper network were reported to be "up to" 7Mbs. There were some niche wireless operators also providing services in the area - with speeds of 10Mbs commonly being offered. A combined Residential gateway (RG) and Wholesale CPE (WCPE) is located in the customer’s premises. The single unit terminates the Wholesale (GPON) transport service and as per Retail Service Providers requirement provides carriers class WiFi, voice and data service for multi-media devices. It separates voice and data traffic in VLANs and applies Quality of Service (QoS) markings for efficient transport over the backhaul network. enet transports the data and voice traffic across its backhaul network and hands them back to the RSP in DEG (or another pre-agreed location) on an ENNI (Ethernet Network to Network Interface) tagged with S-TAGs. The ENNI can be a 1G or a 10G. This method reduces jitter, latency and lowers the contention ratio for a highest quality of service for the end-user.

Further information