Us Dublin dwellers can sometimes take for granted how good we have it.
As our Oscar contender Saoirse Ronan put it to Vanity Fair recently – “We’re halfway between America and the UK – the best place on earth.”
We’re plugged into Asia, Europe and the States with a global outlook and a can-do attitude.
Meeting startups from our European hinterland underlines this – they do not have their efforts aligned towards the largest markets in the world like we do.
Spare a thought though for our hinterlands. For years the rural parts of Ireland have laboured with awful broadband. Countless government initiatives have brought no respite until now. Finally.
Our national state-owned electricity network, ESB, has joined forces with our largest mobile operator (and Dublin Globe sponsor) Vodafone, to create SIRO – an end-to-end fibre network which will serve 1.5 million addresses in Ireland. Serving up Google Fiber comparable speeds of 1Gbps, SIRO is lighting up our countryside.
The ESB has for fifteen years used fibre for its own internal communications, but two years ago they decided to solve the problem that’s dogged rural broadband for decades – the last mile. SIRO is a wholesale brand which will sell super-fast connectivity to all the Telcos here.
Now Siro are on a mission to bring the internet to places it hasn’t been at scale.
Stephen O’Connor, SIRO’s Director of Corporate Affairs has been active in this space for years, having previously worked as Special Adviser to the Minister for Communications, when the Green Party’s Eamon Ryan was in charge.
“The issue is speed,” enthuses Stephen, “About a third of the one million connections in Ireland are still under 10 mbps. We’ve got to move people from a mindset that 10mbps is ok.
With the Internet of Things, the biggest thing you have to do is give people connectivity – IoT doesn’t work if you don’t have connectivity.”
There are massive moves afoot on many levels to form a major IoT cluster in Dublin, as regular Dublin Globe readers will already know. Siro takes this a step forward by connecting Dublin’s hinterland and bringing new opportunities into the mix, in particular AgTech.
Farmers of all sizes can now access tools that can transform their businesses, and this is being driven by data. In the SaaS world, we’ve seen how scale has been unbundled and how that’s led to an explosion of innovation. The same is now happening in agriculture.
Ireland’s IoT progress is moving quickly on all fronts, not just software. Intel are betting their future on IOT and hope their chips will be at the heart of this wave, just as they were with PCs and mobile. From the ground level up, we’ve also got DCU’s new Innovation Campus, which has connected hardware as a core focus. On top of all that we’ve also got Intel and DCU”s testbed in Croke Park, from where these new innovations can be demo-ed.
SIRO adding rural connectivity now opens a new front. It’s all shaping up for IoT to become an integral part of a new era of innovation spinning out globally from Dublin.
Pictured: Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and SIRO CEO Sean Atkinson at the unveiling of SIRO. Pic:Naoise Culhane