Need for broadband speed drove plan to connect west
Originally from Mullingar and from an IT background, Paul Cunnane moved from Dublin to Mayo for a change of pace in 2001 -but found that access to broadband was severely lacking. Rather than simply complaining about it, he decided to set up his own broadband company, and so in 2005 Westnet was born. The company was set up with the aim of establishing affordable, high-quality broadband to rural communities in the west of Ireland. http://www.independent.ie/business/small-business/need-for-broadband-speed-drove-plan-to-connect-west-35933069.html
Originally from Mullingar and from an IT background, Paul Cunnane moved from Dublin to Mayo for a change of pace in 2001 -but found that access to broadband was severely lacking. Rather than simply complaining about it, he decided to set up his own broadband company, and so in 2005 Westnet was born. The company was set up with the aim of establishing affordable, high-quality broadband to rural communities in the west of Ireland.
Since setting up the business, Westnet has established more than 100 local access points and a high-capacity fibre-optic and licensed wireless backbone which runs the length and breadth of Mayo.
“Our customers are all in the west of Ireland, as far south as Clonbur, Co Galway and as far north as west Sligo. We reach as far west as Achill Island and as far east as parts of Roscommon,” says Cunnane.
“Having a good broadband service is essential in this day and age. Our Castlebar data centre is linked into Ireland’s fibre network and beyond. From the Westnet hub we have used fibre and wireless technology to create a comprehensive network linking much of the region.
“We have a customer support phone line and SMS service operating seven days a week backed up by our team of engineers. Our sales team can check a customer’s location using sophisticated network-mapping software to see if a customer’s location has fibre service available or is within our wireless coverage.”
Westnet has installed network access points in many of the rural areas of Co Mayo, helping local businesses develop and thrive in areas where the existing communications network had previously let them down.
“Additionally, homeowners and students in Mayo can now sit in the comfort of their own homes to gain easy access to the internet for leisure, business and education purposes,” says Cunnane, who has worked in the IT business since 1987, starting as a junior computer programmer in a Mullingar factory. He then held various IT roles in software, hardware and networks and became the international information systems manager for The Learning Company, a publisher of educational software and games, which was bought by toymaker Mattel.
Disillusioned with the dotcom bubble, he moved to Mayo for a change of pace in 2001 as he had family roots there. He spent a few years as a personal development coach, but never lost his interest in all things IT.
“I was constantly frustrated with the inability to get fast or even reliable broadband. I think anyone living in rural Ireland can identify with that struggle,” he says. Homeowners and students living in outlying areas were depending on town centre internet caf?s, or on unreliable mobile dongles, for broadband internet access, he adds
“My struggle to get any sort of internet access in rural Mayo led to me to set up a wireless broadband co-operative – the Knockmore Network – which led in turn to setting up Westnet.”
Cunnane assembled a team of skilled professionals, creating a blend of IT, networking and radio communications expertises to deliver reliable solutions to areas that are not considered cost-effective by other suppliers.
“We’ve been getting faster and faster all the time. Late last year, we signed a deal with Siro, the ESB-Vodafone joint venture company, which will allow us to provide one-gigabit broadband to the people of Westport and Castlebar,” says Cullane.
“This means that the people in these areas can access broadband as fast as international hubs like Hong Kong or Singapore.
“As a regional broadband provider, it is fantastic to be able to avail of Siro’s open access network as we can compete with any telco offering services in these towns.”
Being able to offer both wired and wireless services gives Westnet flexibility in the products that it can offer to its customers. It can offer direct fibre to the home where those services are becoming available, high-speed broadband through the phone lines in most of the region’s towns, and wireless broadband almost everywhere else. Westnet was one of the first regional internet service providers (ISPs) to recognise the importance of supporting high-speed fibre services to homes.
When the National Broadband Plan was announced in 2012, Westnet publicly embraced the idea of rolling out fibre services to every premises in the country, and it has signed agreements to provide services on commercial fibre networks in the meantime.
“When we started out, we had to build our own network from scratch,” says Cunnane.
“There was precious little fibre in Mayo, and what was there wasn’t available to operators like us at the time, so we built our own radio network to cover the county and now that Siro is in Mayo, we have access to the best broadband in the country.
“We’ve kept that radio network updated to the latest available technology, and in recent years we’ve been able to access fibre backbone networks, which complement and add resilience to the radio backbone.”
Westnet employs 13 people, and Cunnane believes it is important to have like-minded staff. He says that to provide the best service he needs to have staff who know what they are talking about and are at the top of their game.
“Having staff with complementary strengths and abilities who can bring something different to the table is invaluable to me.”
Cunnane also emphasises the importance of co-operation among the wider business community – he himself recently completed a stint as chairman of the ISP Association of Ireland, and Westnet co-founder Brendan Minish has been a member of the board of INEX, the Irish neutral internet exchange, for several years. Cunnane’s story is an excellent example of how a personal struggle identified a gap in the market and how it is possible to harness existing skills and experiences to solve a problem for a large range of customers, demonstrating that a high technology product doesn’t need to begin life in a large business hub.
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The ACCC1 is seeking volunteers for its broadband performance monitoring program, to measure the speeds of fixed-line nbn services at various times. Under the program, hardware-based monitoring devices will be installed in around 4000 households over four years, starting with around 2000 volunteers for the first year. The program aims to provide consumers with transparent, comparable information about typical broadband speeds and performance in various areas and at various times throughout the day. ACCC Acting Chair Delia Rickard added that the program will help determine whether issues relating to poor speeds are the fault of the performance of the nbn or the network decisions made by the retail service providers servicing end users.
“The program will allow the ACCC to determine if issues are being caused by the performance of the nbn, or by ISPs not buying sufficient capacity,” she said.
“The ACCC is currently investigating examples of where ISPs may have misled consumers in relation to their broadband speeds and other issues related to consumer guarantees that may raise concerns under the Australian Consumer Law.”
Rickard added that Australians spend a combined $4 billion on fixed broadband services per year but many remain dissatisfied with services that don’t deliver the peak speeds advertised.
“The volunteers will be helping to produce accurate, transparent and comparable information about the quality and reliability of the fixed-line broadband services available in their area. This will lead to more competition and better value for money for broadband services,” she said.
“Speed information is a key ingredient for consumers, and consumers are entitled to expect accurate information about services they buy.”
Initial applications will be open until the end of July.
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Key players profiled in the study are Airbus DS Communications, AT&T Inc., Ericsson AB, Harris Corporation, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., Motorola Solutions, Inc., Nokia, Tait Ltd., Verizon Communications Inc., and ZTE Corporation. These players are involved in competitive strategies including geographical expansion, mergers & acquisitions, product portfolio expansion, and partnership to augment the growth of the wireless broadband network in public safety market. Key Findings of the Wireless Broadband In Public Safety Market:
– The department of police segment accounted for the highest share of the wireless broadband in public safety market in 2016, growing at a CAGR of 5.9% from 2017 to 2023 – North America generated the highest revenue in 2016, valued at $5,308 million. – Asia-Pacific dominated the market in terms of growth during the forecast period.
– U.S. led the wireless broadband in public safety market in 2016. In addition, Canada, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and the other emerging markets are anticipated to provide significant opportunities for major players.
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Allied Market Research
- ^ SBWIRE (www.sbwire.com)
- ^ https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/wireless-broadband-in-public-safety-market (www.alliedmarketresearch.com)
- ^ https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/request-sample/1099 (www.alliedmarketresearch.com)
- ^ https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/purchase-enquiry/1099 (www.alliedmarketresearch.com)