New ‘superhighway’ internet cable from US could create Mayo ‘Silicon Valley’

“The biggest news story in Mayo since Knock Airport” is how one insider described the revelation this week that a major dark fibre optic cable from Mayo to New York is set to be developed.

The new cable — the Atlantic Fibre Optic Cable by Emerald Networks and Irish Dark Fibre Network by PiPiper Consortium — is scheduled to be up and running by 2013 and will deliver perfect high-capacity broadband access not only in Mayo, but directly between Mayo, London, and America. Particularly noteworthy is the low ‘latency’ in the cable — facilitated by its direct land and sea-traversing route, which will ensure rapid response to every click of the mouse. The lower the latency the faster the information appears on screen.

The cable, which is part of a national dark fibre network being constructed throughout Ireland by PiPiper Consortium, in association with American-Irish company Emerald Networks, which is constructing the North America-Europe Atlantic link, will come into Ireland at Belmullet and connect on through the country to Galway, Sligo, Dublin, and Cork. However, because the connection into Ireland is being made in Mayo, all traffic over the network from other parts of Ireland will have to relay through Mayo first before reaching its targeted destination.

Up to now, clicks to websites in America, for example, first relayed from Mayo up to Dublin, over to London, and on to the US, but from now on, a click of the mouse will bring users direct to the overseas website. While the development will have enormous benefits for the whole of Ireland, it will confer a major competitive advantage on the west of Ireland and Mayo in particular, which will now be seen as a very attractive destination hub for high tech projects, akin to Silicon Valley.

News of the development was announced in Dublin yesterday (Thursday ) at the Mansion House, with a follow-up information briefing in Belmullet today.

Confirming the long-touted belief that Ireland and America are but a small distance apart, the new fibre optic cable will not only allow private internet users in Mayo to gain direct access to websites in the UK and USA, without having to be routed around the country on existing cables, but is so technically advanced it will meet the requirements of major corporate telecommunications companies . The finished cable will also be able to serve the planned broadband link-up between the Chicago, London, and Frankfurt stock exchanges.

Belmullet was chosen, not merely as a suitable location for the entry of the cable into Ireland, but also as the optimum location, given that, in geographical terms, it forms the connecting part of the great circle (flattened view of the globe’s sphere on an atlas ) between America, the UK, and Ireland.

The project was warmly welcomed by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin today.

“When completed in 2013 it will be the fastest link between the major European and US financial centres and will add significantly to communications capacity on the Atlantic,” the Taoiseach said. “The plans to upgrade the fibre optic network by PiPiper, an Irish based consortium, will facilitate the link from Belmullet to Dublin and will add significantly to our national infrastructure inventory, particularly along the west coast.

“Taken together these initiatives will mark a major step forward for the country as a whole. They will copperfasten Ireland’s strategic position as the digital bridge between Europe and the United States and will position this island to become a global cloud computing centre.”

Cllr Eugene McCormack, Castlebar town mayor and chairman of the Planning and Development SPC in Mayo County Council, described the project as “wonderful news for Mayo and indeed Ireland” and extended congratulations to Taoiseach Kenny, “without whose intervention the project would have gone just as far as the UK”.

“It’s the largest low-latency transatlantic cable connecting North America and Europe — a new super highway across the Atlantic that has the capacity to meet the current and future needs of telecom users and internet service providers, corporate customers and any high tech industry; this will increase the infrastructure and attractiveness of anywhere it goes through for high tech industries. It is following the gas pipeline route, which runs very close to Castlebar, which makes it really exciting news as it will increase the chances of creating high tech jobs in Mayo and beyond.”


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