Tele-exchange was saved but who’s using it?

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Hibernia Networks, formerly Hibernia Atlantic Ltd., which built the 30 million euro Project Kelvin transatlantic communications cable incorporating a landing station at Coleraine and ‘tele-exchange’ in Londonderry, won’t tell the Sentinel who, if anyone’s been using it since it became operational in 2010.

Seven years after a Londonderry ‘Save Our Telehouse’ campaign, supported by Mark Durkan, Martina Anderson, Gerard Diver, Pat Ramsey, and Janice Tracey among others, successfully ensured Project Kelvin would include the installation of a little unmanned ‘tele-exchange’ beside McDonald’s on the Strand Road, some are now asking if the new infrastructure has been of any real benefit to the North West.

One IT professional and digital start-up founder, who asked not to be named, told the Sentinel he’s been sceptical about some of the claims that were used to promote Project Kelvin for quite some time.

“Ninety-nine per cent of businesses can’t or will never use it,” he told the paper.

“No members of the public use it - since companies like BT have their own ‘tele-exchanges,’ which operate from places like Belfast, Dublin and London. Theres simply no need.

“Hibernia Networks gets to keep control - so we not only paid them to build the road- they get to operate it and charge whatever tolls they like,” he added.

“The only thing we paid for that I can see was the ‘fixed costs and rates’ that only last until 2018,” he said.

The concerned IT technician also argued that the line was never free for local businesses to use in the first place and “is not effectively priced enough for any Peering Companies to ever use.”

“If a company was ever to use it - the difference would be marginal at best.

“Perhaps you would be 1/20th of a second faster in establishing a connection (and that’s being generous),” he said.

The Sentinel asked Hibernia Networks for details of usage of the 22 mile connection from the transatlantic cable to landfall at Coleraine.

The paper also asked for details of the point-of-presence at Fort George in Londonderry and for details of which, if any, Internet Service Providers, companies, or public bodies, have been using the infrastructure.

A spokesperson stated: “Much of the data requested is proprietary customer information.

“As such, we will be unable to assist with your inquiry.”

In 2012 the company told this paper: “Hibernia has successfully sold connectivity to many service providers, content delivery network operators, financial exchanges and local and global enterprise firms.

“All of these customers required additional capacity to and from Northern Ireland, to support their high-performance networks.”

The telecoms firm said it “could not give specific numbers or names” and that it was “difficult to fully calculate as our carrier and reseller channels enable many more local companies to connect for Internet and fixed line access that Hibernia would be unaware of.”