Communications Minister Eamon Ryan announced that he has appointed e|net to manage and operate phase II of the Metropolitan Area Networks, (MANs) programme.
MANs are State owned, telecommunications networks located in towns and cities throughout the country. These optic fibre open access networks are offered to telecommunication service providers, to enable them to provide high-speed broadband services to their customers without them having to build their own networks.
e|net, as manager and operator, will offer a variety of products to service providers so that they in turn can deliver high speed broadband services to their retail customers.
Announcing the contract Minister Ryan said, "The MANs play a pivotal role in the delivery of high speed broadband to regions throughout the country at a time when the advancement of a knowledge economy has never been more important. The ESRI predicts that around 70% of our exports will be services by 2025. Most of those services will be branded digitally. Broadband for our towns will provide the basis for investment and jobs throughout Ireland. I look forward to e|net not only utilising the MANs to their full potential in terms of driving competition and increasing the choice of service providers, but also increasing the quality of broadband services offered and reducing telecoms prices generally."
Fifty nine MANs covering sixty five towns have been constructed under phase II of the programme at a cost of approximately Ä98 million.
More than thirty of Ireland's leading telecommunications providers including BT, UPC, Magnet and Vodafone utilise the MANs to deliver their products to their customers.
Earlier this year Vodafone Ireland agreed a Ä17 million deal over 15 years with e|net, enabling Vodafone to enhance their mobile broadband capability and providing them with sufficient data capability to support its future higher-capacity data products and services.
IDA figures illustrate that MANís have enabled towns to increase their share of Foreign Direct Investment from 24% to over 89% in 2007, thereby aiding the a more balanced spread of regional development.