Project Kelvin is a joint €30 million initiative between DETI and DCENR and is partly funded through the EC INTERREG IVA programme. The new cable will link Armagh, Ballymena, Belfast, Coleraine, Londonderry, Omagh, Portadown and Strabane to Europe and North America. In addition, the cable will also provide links to Letterkenny, Castleblayney, Dundalk, Drogheda and Monaghan. This build marks another key milestone in Hibernia Atlantic’s history, as the communications company is the first to deploy a cable from North America to this region. This build is also notable for Northern Ireland and global companies alike, as it offers a new wealth of capacity and the ability to directly and securely connect to Canada, US, UK and mainland Europe.
Locations on the Saturn Ring are already possessing high speed connections but if you’re not in a building sitting on a Point of Presence (POP) then you’re kinda buggered anyway. The cost for laying a 2 Mbit leased line from a very close POP is currently around £6K and a 10 Mbit line can be had for around £8.5K. The further you are away from a POP, the higher the cost.
The problem that Kelvin isn’t resolving is the Last Mile.
This refers to the fact that you can drag a high speed cable three thousand miles across the Atlantic ocean but when it gets here, you’re stuck on a slow upload link. But, I hear you protest, we have 50 Mbit internet links in Belfast? Download yes – which is fine if you want to have a nation of consumers but rubbish if, for example, you want to upload digital content (home-grown movies for example) to content delivery servers in the USA. In essence, if Kelvin doesn’t usher in a new heap of wireless connectivity, it’s not actually as much use. Unless, of course, you own one of the POPs and have a heap of office space to rent out.
So, what’s the solution for getting the data out there?
A few years ago, a group of cheeky folk mobbed around Belfast with iBooks and Windows CE handheld and large Omni and Backfire antennae and played with the idea of setting up an intra-Belfast wireless network. that group folded – people went off and did their own thing – but the concept itself is still valuable. Why don’t we have a wireless delivery system for bandwidth from a local POP? How much does it really cost to buy an access port on the POP and then feed that out to folk who need it?
I guess this is another vote for “who is looking after the little guy?”