How can SIRO achieve success in just two years?


SIRO is the first 100% fiber optic broadband company in Ireland. It had brought huge changes to Ireland in the past two years. How can they achieve business success? Sean Atkinson, CEO of SIRO, shares their story with you.

Transcript:

Q: Could you please introduce SIRO?

A: 

SIRO are its first 100% fiber optic broadband company. We're rolling out fiber optic on the electrical network, connecting 50 regional towns in Ireland and giving them a service, 1 Gigabit broadband service and through the south, which is a historic problem in Ireland. That region alone, it's very poorly served with broadband. So SIRO is really all about providing state of the art broadband to those regional towns. 

Q:

What drives electricity company ESB to invest in SIRO?

A:

Well, ESB is the electricity supply board. In Ireland, it's a national utility company, has been delivering infrastructure in Ireland for nearly 100 years now and they came together with Vodafone to roll out SIRO. But from the electricity company perspective, you know, they have a network. They have a connection into every home so its ability to leverage from that asset and use those pathways to deliver fiber optic network. So it's really about from the electrical company perspective, it's about investing into a new network, leveraging off the existing network but also doing the right thing for the country in terms of delivering broadband into regional Ireland and you know solving a problem that was there. You know, sort of what, Ireland's we call it digital divide, in that the cities reasonably well-served, but regional Ireland is poorly served. 

Q:

What are the main challenges in building a nationwide FTTH network? The benefits?

A:

I suppose the challenges are that it's different than rolling it out on the traditional telecoms network. Even if you're still on poles, you're up on an electrical network that wasn't designed for fiber initially. So there's an element of design in that and there's an element of safety so it's a fundamentally more dangerous place to work.

So from a SIRO perspective, we put safety first so we're putting people to work in proximity to electricity which is very different than just on the telecoms network. So you know, you have to really work very closely with the utility company so you can plan your work alongside their work. There are the requirements for some outages when you're working up on the overhead network. You know, obviously, that can be an inconvenience for people so that's probably the biggest challenge in working with it, where the difference would be in just rolling out a traditional network. And the benefits are really around sort of the ease to build. So it goes to the pace to build and the cost of building o if we were to do this network from scratch, without having any access to poles and ducts, you'd be digging it in, which is very slow, very expensive. So I suppose that's really the key benefit from a SIRO perspective is that sort of ability to do it predictably at a reasonable pace and at a lower cost. 

Transcript:

Q:

What is your competitive weapon as a new player?

A:

We're a wholesale provider so we build the network and then retailers come on and sell on us. So we're very much about building the state of the art, so what we want to be able to do is build a network that is 100% fiber optic. So we'll be the best network. It also is new. So a lot of our IT systems allow the ability to do business with us as a retailer. It's a lot easier than it would be with the older companies with a lot of old legacy systems. So it's very easy to come and do business with SIRO as a retailer. But I suppose really our compelling proposition is that we're a company that's three years old. We're building for two years and we're already fundamentally making a difference in Ireland.

We're rolling out the network. We're changing the conversation to 100% fiber optic. And it's that ability to build that speed, build that in a cost effective way and ultimately challenge the incumbent telco to say we are building. We want to provide the best network that's available today into Ireland. 

Q:

Can you tell us what the Smart Gigabit Town is?

A:

When we roll out into a town, a lot of people really don't grasp what Gigabit means and what difference it can make to them. They probably understand the entertainment. We can download a movie faster than we did before or streaming is better but I mean it's so much more than that. 

It's the ability for a regional town to thrive so if you're trying to stop the regional town, you know, the younger people moving away, so the Gigabit Hub Initiative is where we've come together with Vodafone and we go into a town and we try and educate the people in the town about what Gigabit means and working with local people as we try to identify a building that we can turn into a digital hub. I suppose the best example, the first one we did was in a very small town in sort of west of Ireland called Skibbereen, only 2,000 homes. So very small but working with the local community there, we created the Ludgate Center, which is a digital hub. It's a building with 75 seats. We provide two years free 1 Gigabit connectivity with Vodafone. So for small businesses, they can come in and they can start up there, even people can come and work there if they're working remotely. It means they can work on a Monday or a Friday. They don't have to go to their offices. Because they wouldn't have had the broadband capacity before. So it's about educating the town, bringing the town with you on a journey to embrace what Gigabit can mean for a community. And it's an initiative we're trying to roll out across all our towns. 

We'll have sort of—putting up 10 digital hubs in place by the end of this year across our towns.

Q:

What else should we know about SIRO?

A:

The key thing from SIRO's perspective and what we're out there sharing is how unique this is. We're the first people to do this on a nationwide basis. There have been places where fiber optic has been rolled out on an electrical network before but never on a national basis. So it's—we're trying to proud of this. We think it's a really innovative solution. We think it can deliver for regional Ireland in a unique and innovative way and I think that's really what it would be 

So you know, it's something we're very proud of. We've had many people from around the world come to visit us and you know, see what a small country in terms of Ireland, come and visit us and see what we're doing. There's opportunities for it to be deployed elsewhere.