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5 Ways Irish Businesses Can Use AI To Grow

2023 has been the year that AI (Artificial Intelligence) exploded into public consciousness like never before. AI jumped from the pages of tech and business publications to water cooler conversations and prime time news bulletins.   AI technology has been around for many years. We engage with it all the time; likely without even realising it. Yet the arrival of ChatGPT seems to have moved the dial in terms of public imagination, accessibility and ease of use, much more than other iterations of AI technology.   Quietly launched by OpenAI as a demo on 30 November 2022, ChatGPT, didn’t stay quiet for long. Within days, word of its capability was extensively shared across social media. So fast that within five days of the launch ChatGPT already had a million users. Within two months this figure reached 100 million users. It continues to grow, especially with business - 80% of Fortune 500 companies are subscribers.   ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that uses natural language processing to create humanlike conversational dialogue. The language model can respond to questions and compose varied written content, from articles, social media posts, essays, reports and emails. What makes it standout is that its responses and style are so human like.   In the context of Irish business, particularly Irish SMEs who make up over 90% of our companies, AI offers a wealth of opportunities to address many of the issues and pinch points they encounter. Particularly in the current Irish business environment, characterised by increasing costs and labour market shortages but coupled with value-seeking consumers who demand always-on customer service.   Key areas where AI tools can support Irish businesses include: 

Administrative Tasks

Admin is a necessary part of running a business. It can be time consuming and tedious. Often these key tasks are repeatedly pushed to the bottom of the To Do list.   AI tools can step in and carry the load for tasks such as data entry, task management, appointment scheduling and calendar management, document management and classification, meeting transcripts or report generation.   Tools include: Otter Google Assistant Fireflies ChatGPT 

Customer Service

Chatbots! They have not always had the greatest reputation, with customers complaining that they want to talk to a “real person.” This view is outdated. It neglects the advances in AI technology which have significantly improved how Chatbots now interact and engage with customers.   They can act as a first line of response on your website or messaging channels, answering common or relatively simple questions. This reduces a team’s workload and frees up their time to deal with both complex and high-value customers queries.   Another clear advantage is that these bots can provide a triaged customer service response, and 24/7.   Equally, bots can provide personalised and individual recommendations to customers based on their previous engagements on the site. This support can be critical in keeping customers longer on your site and staying on to check-out and completing their purchases.   Beyond bots, there are also multiple AI tools to analyse customer engagements, sentiment, shopping habits and feedback to help businesses better understand their customers or how they view products or services. This information can actively help a business to improve its offering.   Useful AI tools include: Zendesk HubSpot  Intercom  Salesforce  Brandwatch  Brand24 

Human Resources

AI can also support a variety of human resource functions from initial recruitment to performance management.  This support can include assisting with the recruitment process by using AI to screen CVs, shortlist applicants and schedule interviews.  Once a position is filled AI can then help with the onboarding process and creating the employee documentation such as contracts or orientations documents.   AI can also play a key role in evaluating employee performance, gathering and assessing feedback and spotting trends and areas for performance improvements.   Platforms include: Zoho Recruit   BambooHR  UpWork 

Translation services

If you are a small business but selling into international markets, language barriers can be an issue in terms of your website, your marketing materials, contracts, agreements and other vital documents.  Previously, the only way around this was to use costly translation services. AI can now do this process seamlessly and cheaply.   AI resources include: Google Translate Bing Microsoft DeepL 

Social Media and Content Creation

Social media has long been a shop window for many small businesses to either promote or actively sell their goods and services.   But anyone running a small business also knows that social media is a beast. One that must be constantly fed with new and updated content. Few small businesses have bandwidth for a full time dedicated social media content resource.   Here AI tools, can step in to ease the burden. Tasks which AI can contribute to include generating content ideas, developing engaging captions or copy, or designing eye catching images or infographics.   Other areas where AI can assist include scheduling social posts at optimal times; generating data analysis on social posts performance to provide real time data or inform future campaigns; or, personalising social posts to foster deeper engagement and brand affinity with consumers.   Popular AI social media tools include Social Sprout  Hootsuite DALL.E 2 

Reliable connectivity as an enabler of AI for Business

There are an abundance of AI tools and platforms which can all help make business more efficient, productive and optimised for the growth. However, a key part of unlocking the AI opportunity lies with access to reliable and robust connectivity – fibre broadband - to underpin such tools.   If you would like to find out whether SIRO’s 100% fibre broadband is available to your home, search your Eircode here. [lookup_modal type="eircode" button-text="Search Your Eircode" position="mid" title="Input your Eircode to check whether SIRO is available at your location"]
On 30 August, the traditional CAO Round One kicks-off. The process is one in which those hoping for a college place eagerly wait for an offer, hopefully, for their course of choice and at their preferred college or university.  However, for these fresh-faced freshers looking forward to commencing their college journey, the thought of undertaking a second college course at some point in the future might be furthest from their minds. But, for many people who completed their education in years or decades past, returning to study is something which they are now considering.   For potential mature students, whether they had the college experience first-time around or never got the opportunity to go further after completing secondary school, undertaking further education is much more challenging. The nature of their lives has become much more demanding and complex than might have once been the case.  Family or work commitments, busy lifestyles with more demands on personal time or the financial priorities of mortgages and other day to day expenses, all make perusing college education as a mature student more difficult.   Despite this, we are seeing new routes to further education emerge in response to these challenges. There are many examples of flexible education emerging. Fully online and remote education is expanding, micro-credentials and short courses, which over time can be built into bigger degree or master's qualifications, are all growing in number and popularity.   SIRO GigaBitHubs Join Learning In The Hubs Initiative Reliable and future proofed connectivity enabled through increasing access to fibre broadband networks across Ireland is supporting the trend toward in Ireland.   However, for many in Ireland fully remote further education can sometimes come with at least two disadvantages. Firstly, if you live in a part of Ireland where fibre broadband networks have yet to be rolled out, engaging with online education can be difficult. Or secondly, if you work and learn better in a group setting with classmates then online education can feel isolating.  

New remote studying initiative aims to make studying more accessible

Luckily, a new pilot higher education initiative is seeking to offer a solution to both of these issues for mature students. In June, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, and Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris introduced a new initiative “‘Learning in the Hubs’”, which will allow third-level students to carry out their degrees from their local connected hub. “Learning in the Hubs” is being rolled out initially in the Midlands under a strategic partnership between Connected Hubs and the Technology University of the Shannon (TUS).   For students, this means they can attend lectures and complete course work in a group setting, from the closest connected hub to them. To start, two new courses will be offered at 13 remote working hubs. The courses are as follows: Certificate in Business in Entrepreneurship (Level 6), and Bachelor of Business (Hons) (Level 8) degree programme.  

Which hubs are participating in this initiative?

The location of the hubs offering these courses are as follows: Ballinasloe, Birr, Boyle, Edenderry, Edgeworthstown, Mountmellick, Mountrath, Mullingar, Portarlington, Portlaoise, Tullamore.  In August, Dundalk’s Creative Spark and Skibbereen’s Ludgate Hub recently announced that they too will join the initiative.   [caption id="attachment_8534" align="aligncenter" width="940"]Powered by SIRO, The Ludgate GigaBitHub in Skibereen has recently joined the Learning In The Hubs Initiative Powered by SIRO, The Ludgate GigaBitHub in Skibereen has recently joined the Learning In The Hubs Initiative[/caption]

How does SIRO play a part?

We are committed to rolling out our fibre broadband network to towns and cities across Ireland. As this work continues and our country moves ever closer to a full fibre Ireland, we also need to focus on the use cases for our network. The delivery of public services such as eHealth or online education are two obvious areas where reliable connectivity can improve the lives of our citizens.  With a number of existing Connected Hubs already utilising our full fibre broadband network, we welcome this initiative which focuses on empowering students to receive their third-level education locally. The initiative is a pilot programme, with the opportunity to offer the programme as a larger mainstreamed initiative further down the line being explored.   Having access to reliable, future-proofed connectivity will support the development of sustainable communities in smaller towns nationwide, making these towns more attractive places to live, work and invest in.   For more information on the ‘Learning in the Hubs’ initiative read here.

Find Out More Information on the GigaBitHub Initiative

Despite the recent job losses in the tech sector and high inflation this past year, unemployment rates remain at a 20-year record low.   However, job creation has slowed, and acquiring (and more importantly) retaining talent is still a concern for over half of Irish firms, according to (IBEC).  Meanwhile, at SIRO, we have found alternative sources for recruiting to be a rewarding, and insightful experience that other recruiters could adopt. Through partnerships with organisations like Pathways to Progress, Digital Skillnet  and WALK  we have been able to recruit for roles that in the past, were difficult to source through typical channels.  

Recruiting people from migrant backgrounds

SIRO partners with Pathways to Progress to recruit highly skilled people from a range of countries. Pathways to Progress not only support people from migrant backgrounds to find work, but also support the employer at all stages of the programme.   IBEC has reported that unemployment amongst Ukranians who have moved to Ireland since the Russian invasion stands at 24.5%, with English proficiency stated as a key barrier to work. 70% of Ukrainian candidates agreed that this was a barrier for them (Intreo). SIRO has found that the Pathways to Progress programme recognises these barriers and enables employer and employee to work together to overcome them.   One of the participants of the programme at SIRO shared:
“As a non-EU citizen in Ireland, I faced numerous challenges trying to find a full-time job. Working at SIRO has been a transformative experience, I've gained so much valuable experience and knowledge that will serve me well in my career moving forward.”

Recruiting people with disabilities

People with a disability account for over 13% of our population and in Ireland, yet they are 50% more likely to be unemployed compared to their peers without a disability. Although we have seen unemployment rates fall, employment prospectives for people with disabilities have been slow to change.  SIRO, in partnership with WALK has facilitated three programme participants to progress their career ambitions through paid employment. All three have progressed onto new opportunities in the open labour market. The inclusion and support during their time at SIRO were key to participants gaining valuable experience of being in work, learning new skills, and building confidence in themselves.  The Supported Employment model enables people with disabilities to achieve sustainable long-term employment and businesses to employ valuable workers. The model has at its heart the notion that anyone can be employed if they want to work and sufficient support is provided. It is a flexible and continuous process, designed to meet individual needs. 

Recruiting returners to work

The Technology Ireland Digital Skillnet Women Reboot programme supports women with tech sector skills and experience to return to work after a career break.   This is a hugely valuable stream to gain access to female candidates looking to integrate back into a still predominantly male dominated sector. According to data published by the CSO, less than one third (32%) of Ireland’s IT workers are female.   Engaging with this programme was a natural fit for SIRO, as it aligns with our values and wider sustainability strategy to increase gender representation across the organisation.   Feedback received from returners demonstrates how they can build confidence while adding value through the work they are doing.   
“Companies like SIRO are very forward thinking by participating in the Women Reboot programme as it taps into a huge pool of talent that would be wasted otherwise.”

Apprenticeship programmes at SIRO

SIRO also offers Apprenticeship Programmes within our Build and Finance Departments; combining on the job work-based learning and classroom-based learning, in a college or training institution. It enables employers to recruit and upskill employees cost-effectively while giving school leavers and mature learners an alternative path to employment.  

Education and awareness

At SIRO, we provide unconscious bias and disability awareness training across the organisation, most recently in partnership with Employers for Change. This fosters an understanding and appreciation of different backgrounds, cultures and disabilities and enables employees to develop the skills to work effectively within diverse teams. 

Recruitment and integration

During recruitment, it’s crucial to make reasonable accommodations where necessary. Putting inclusive values into practice can mean making small changes to ensure accessible and fair recruitment processes. This could include giving candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and experience outside of the typical interview structure, or site visits prior to interviews.   Pathways to Progress have an inclusive recruitment toolkit, providing practical and actionable ways to implement inclusive practices around recruitment.   SIRO engages with candidates and various organisations on an ongoing basis to tailor supports once candidates are onboarded, whether that be access to English courses or subscriptions to online language software.  To conclude, there are a number of measures you can take to ensure you get the process right. For example:
  • Maintain a regular feedback loop - The best way to do this is by actively seeking feedback from both the candidates that have come through the programmes, as well as their line managers and teams they work with.  
  • Be authentic and transparent – You might not always get it right, but as long as you are learning and you have the right intentions, you can build on these foundations.  
  • Find the right partners – The support from organisations, (in our experience Employers for Change, WALK, Pathways to Progress, Women Reboot and IBEC) helps support the employer and employee in the full employment life cycle.
To learn more about our sustainability efforts or any of our current job opportunities, read more here
Today we are happy to announce that our full fibre broadband is currently being rolled out to homes and businesses in both Ballyshannon and Bundoran. Our fibre broadband network is bringing high-speed, future-proofed connectivity to 1,300 homes and businesses in Bundoran and 900 premises in Ballyshannon. The initial build works in the towns commenced in March 2023, with works set to be fully completed in both towns this autumn. Some premises in Bundoran are already available to order, with the remainder becoming available in by end August. The first premises in Ballyshannon will be available to order from August onwards. Areas in Ballyshannon which will benefit from the SIRO roll out include (but are not limited to): Bachelor’s Walk, Slate Row, Lawne Close, Cluain Barrow, Assaroe View, Saint Benildus View, West Port, West Rock, Townparks, Highfields, Upper Erne Dale Heights, Abbeylands, Ashbrook Drive. Areas in Bundoran which will benefit from the SIRO roll out include (but are not limited to): Ross Avenue, Ross View, West End, Ben Bulben View, Rossmore Court, Dartry Court, Dinglei Park, Shamble Lane, Marina View, Mountain View, Silverhill, Bunholvill, Sea Crest, River Walk, Celtic Cross View.   SIRO is a joint venture between ESB and Vodafone delivering full fibre broadband to towns and cities across Ireland. The company’s network uses the existing ESB electricity network to bring connectivity to the hearth of homes and businesses. To date, SIRO fibre broadband network is available to over 500,000 premises in more than 130 towns across Ireland. Our full fibre network can provide speeds of up to 2 Gigabits per second for residential customers and up to 10 Gigabits per second for business and enterprise customers. SIRO is a wholesaler broadband provider, meaning consumers and businesses can order their full fibre broadband from one of their twenty retail partners, including Virgin, Vodafone, Sky, Digiweb, Blacknight, Fastcom, Pure Telecom and more. We have already connected almost 20,000 premises across four Donegal towns including: Ballybofey, Buncrana, Letterkenny and Donegal Town. Commenting on the announcement, SIRO CEO John Keaney said:
“At SIRO, we understand the importance of having a reliable broadband connection and no more so than in Donegal. The arrival of SIRO’s fibre broadband to Bundoran and Ballyshannon will hugely benefit individuals and businesses in the two towns as it ensures reliability, stability, and the highest speeds. “We believe that having access to a future-proofed connection ensures individuals can continue to live and work however they choose, and wherever they choose, creating sustainable and prosperous local communities, much less dependent on larger towns and cities for opportunities.”
Chief Executive of Donegal County Council, John G McLaughlin said:
Donegal County Council is delighted with the imminent availability of SIRO in the towns of Bundoran and Ballyshannon. We are expecting a high level of demand in both these towns similar to the demand that has been experienced in Letterkenny, Buncrana, Ballybofey and Donegal Town. “This extra investment in Donegal by SIRO should be applauded as the continued extension of this Fibre-to-the-Building broadband network, which is recognised as the gold standard for broadband internationally, will bring high-speed broadband to 2,200 homes and businesses in South Donegal. “This investment also further supports our strategy to make Donegal a place in which to invest, to live, to work and to visit.”
To find out if SIRO is available to your home/business search your Eircode or register your interest here where you will be automatically notified when SIRO is available at your premise. [mailchimp_modal button-text="Register Your Interest" title="Sign Up Form" position="mid"]
Last year, SIRO and Viatel sponsored Esker House with free connectivity. Esker House is a domestic abuse support service based in Athlone, providing refuge and related services across the Midlands. Now, a year on, SIRO checked in with Deirdre Berry, Manager of Esker House to see how our fibre connection has benefited the refuge.  

Tell us about Esker House and the work that you do?

Esker House is a domestic abuse support service for Women and Children, while based in Athlone and its wider catchment area, we serve women across Ireland. We provide a refuge with 5 units for them to stay in. We have a 24-hour helpline and crisis line for people to ring into. We also a have a suite of services for people who do not wish to leave their homes, but want support in keeping safe, while we manage and identify risks for them. We also work with women who have just left abusive relationships where the risk of assault, and death, would be high. Research indicates that this is the most dangerous point. We work with children who have experienced any sort of domestic abuse, this could include recovery work and crisis work, including creating safety plans, and teaching them how to navigate abusive situations emotionally and safely. In Athlone and Roscommon, we help women learn if they reach the threshold for court using our Court Support Service. We help women identify whether they require protection orders or safety orders, or even barring orders. We provide-on-the day support within the courts and aftercare, linking them in with Gardaí or Solicitors and anything else they might need. [caption id="attachment_8468" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Pictured Deirdre Berry, Manager of Esker House Women’s Refuge, Athlone.[/caption]
“Since we got SIRO, it’s transformed the work that we have been doing”

It’s now been a year since you’ve connected to SIRO’s network. Can you tell us about how you’ve been finding the service?

Prior to the connection we received from SIRO, we struggled to get an internet connection. There seemed to be something wrong with the lines even though we were in the middle of the town. We were at a point where we got an IT consultant company system to diagnose the systems we needed. We wanted to get a new Zoom Phone system, which required broadband. We adopted ESafe, which is a client record system. We knew we were going to use two offices, so we needed to communicate between those two sites. We couldn’t have done that with the internet we had. We also wanted to provide connectivity to service users in apartments, so we needed a network in place to facilitate that. With our old connection, we couldn’t do that. Since we got SIRO, it’s transformed the work that we have been doing. Something as small as being able to provide Netflix for our service users to use at night once they have settled in; to be able to switch off or decompress is really valuable. For us to make the move from paper to digital was unknown for us, but for it to happen with ease was so important to us. The support we received from Sean Dervan in SIRO and the people in Viatel getting us over the line was great.

Is connectivity important for running a shelter? What are the keyways in which broadband is used by your service?

Since having SIRO as a sponsor for our connectivity, we’ve been able to expand our services. We want to be able to provide a wrap-a-round service to our users. So, we decided to rent a separate office as we wanted to utilise the space within the refuge as much as we could. The separate office allows us to do community training, virtual meetings etc. We’ve now been able to introduce Salesforce and use a client record tracking system (Safe Ireland), it’s a national network that’s paired with Include, who built the database. We can now create records, track safety plans, book meetings rooms. We’ve only been able to use this since we got SIRO. Our workers now have a computer each and utilise cloud technology to keep track of everything. All our calls are taken via Zoom. It’s cost effective and time effective. There’s a level of communication and visibility that we wouldn’t have been able to have before. [caption id="attachment_8467" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Pictured Deirdre Berry, Manager of Esker House Women’s Refuge, Athlone with SIRO Corporate Affairs Executive Gill Scally.[/caption]
  “We even got a second connection into our office as we were so impressed with the service. We couldn’t get it in fast enough!”

Would you recommend SIRO’s business product?

Yes absolutely. We even got a second connection into our office as we were so impressed with the service. We couldn’t get it in fast enough! Working with Viatel and SIRO was such a smooth experience. The customer service was great. We didn’t feel there was a massive delay in getting in it either, which was great.  

How can people support Esker House or find out more information?

We have Facebook, Instagram, and a website: We also have a 24-hour helpline, it’s 09064 74122. If anyone wants to support us, fundraising is fantastic but to promote the service and what it does apart of their fundraising events can transform and save women’s lives. If more people could spread the information of what we can do would be invaluable.
SIRO Ireland · Seán Dervan on Radio Kerry - SIRO
At SIRO, we understand the needs and requirements of broadband for businesses across Ireland. Whether you're uploading files and data to the cloud, to using EPOS systems in a busy restaurant, we provide a full scalable broadband to suit your business. We sat down with Kieran Clifford of Island Computers, to better understand the broadband requirements he sees his clients requiring and why more businesses are making the switch to SIRO.

SIRO For Hospitality

We understand that keeping your guests happy and entertained is your top priority to drive loyalty. We can help you choose the best connectivity to ensure that your guests enjoy a wonderful experience. Ensure your guests can stay connected, your employees can access booking and payment systems seamlessly, and facilitate high quality streaming across TV's. Our network is built on the ESB network so you know you can rely on it. Island Computer is an IT Services company, working with small to medium sized enterprises in West Cork & Kerry in the hospitality sector. One SME which Island Technologies provides IT support and advice to is the Sheahan Group. This family hospitality company own and operate several pubs and hotels in the Southwest region. These include Hilliards, Social 15, The PorterHouse, Whitegates Hotel amongst others. There are currently ten clients of Island Computers use SIRO full fibre enterprise broadband services. Viatel is their ISP (Internet Service Provider) on the SIRO network. [caption id="attachment_8434" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Kieran Clifford, Technical Director, Island Computers[/caption]

Why did your company/client make the switch to fibre?

“VDSL was not providing the service that we needed. When you are dependent on using things like EPOS, Credit Cards, CCTV Systems and especially with COVID, we had to validate people’s certs to ensure they were vaccinated, reliable internet is required.  Fibre to the premises, along with a managed services through Viatel was an ideal solution."

Can you give us an example of how SIRO’s fibre was a benefit to your business?

“Before we had SIRO, VDSL would only work until 3p.m.  We were constantly refreshing pages or credit card machines were not working. It was an extremely frustrating experience. Our staff had better things to be doing than refreshing credit card pages.” “So, we decided to trial SIRO and Viatel’s fibre connection initially from one of the busiest premises, having 600-700 people in per night. This was Reidy’s of Killarney. It was a huge success. After that, we rolled it out to McSorely’s and Social 15, which were heavily populated at the weekends. “In our own place of work, we are very much cloud based. We are big users of 365 and Azure. The back end and marketing rely on the technology. We are so dependent on fibre broadband. Since the investment with SIRO and Viatel, we found that our productivity has improved as the broadband provides a smoother experience. The great thing about working with Viatel is that there is two-way communication, so we can coordinate maintenance and make those accommodations to avoid delays.”

Are there any other aspects of the business where SIRO’s fibre broadband improved your operations?

“In areas such as remote monitoring and security, the upload speed was invaluable to us. The synchronous connection allows us to monitor and receive stream images in full HD quality. There is no question about blurry images or video streams that are not focusing correctly. It is allowing us to get real time metrics on the business. e.g., from the EPOS, Attendance, Management Systems, Aircon.”

Would you recommend SIRO’s business products to others who are looking for better broadband?

“Absolutely. One of the huge advantages we found with using SIRO is the flexibility. We are using VYPE and getting rid of the PBXs. We are now using cloud-based comms and IM like Zoom and Teams, and using cloud, remote, and virtual technology, so SIRO is the way to go. It supports all that technology and opens us up. What may seem like an investment at the start, will see a return very quickly. For the businesses I am providing support for, that return came instantly. I was thinking “wow, where would we be without it. Why didn’t we have it two years ago?” “Killarney is a tourist town; you can have 20,000 people here at any Bank Holiday weekend. We need SIRO broadband. Everyone is using social media and uploading content. If you are not in that bubble, you are going to be very disconnected. It is a huge plus to be able to engage with our audiences in that sense too. It needs to be something people can adapt to. I would highly recommend SIRO for Business products. We just cannot wait for the next iteration. When can we get the 2GB and 10GB synchronous speeds?” Businesses across Ireland deserve a broadband connection they can rely on. SIRO 100% Fibre Broadband is a weatherproof, fully scalable connection that will allow your businesses to prosper, giving you one less thing to worry about for your business. To find out more about SIRO for your business, search your Eircode today and get in touch with our Business Development team. [lookup_modal type="eircode" button-text="Search Your Eircode" position="mid" title="Input your Eircode to check whether SIRO is available at your location"]
SIRO Ireland · SIRO Go Live In Blessington - East Coast Radio
Today we are excited to announce that homes and businesses in Blessington can avail of its full fibre broadband. Our fibre broadband will bring reliable, high-speed connectivity to over 1,400 homes and businesses in Blessington. The build works in the area commenced in September 2022, with works now completed. Areas in the town which will benefit from our roll out include (but are not limited to): Old Ballymore Road, Kilmalum, Baltinglas Road, Blessington Orchard, Beechdale, Ashton, Deepark and Burgage. 1,400 homes and businesses can order SIRO from its retailer partners, including Virgin Media, Vodafone, Sky, Digiweb and Pure Telecom. Our roll-out of a full fibre broadband network in Blessington is part of our ongoing network expansion, targeting more than 700,000 premises in over 150 towns and cities across Ireland. We have already connected over 24,000 premises across four Wicklow towns including: Arklow, Bray, Greystones and Wicklow town. Our full fibre network can provide speeds of up to 2 Gigabits per second for residential customers and up to 10 Gigabits per second for business and enterprise customers. Earlier this month, we announced that it has reached the significant milestone of its network reaching 500,000 premises in 130 towns in 26 counties across Ireland. SIRO’s network is built upon the existing ESB electricity infrastructure, bringing it into the hearth of homes and businesses and ensuring stability and resilience. Commenting on the announcement, SIRO Chief Executive Officer, John Keaney, said:
“At SIRO, we understand the importance of having a reliable broadband connection. Our full fibre network – Ireland's most advanced broadband network - empowers homes, businesses and communities to stay connected. “Access to reliable broadband is now an essential service and integral part of how we now live. The arrival of SIRO’s fibre broadband to Blessington will hugely benefit individuals and businesses in the town as it ensures reliability, stability, and the highest speeds. “At SIRO, our purpose is to give power and flexibility back to people, allowing them to live and work in ways that work best for them. With over 20 retail partners to choose from, businesses and homes can compare prices and go with the retailer that suits them best.”
To find out more information on SIRO’s roll out in Blessington, or across Ireland, take a look here, or search your Eircode today.
[lookup_modal type="eircode" button-text="Search Your Eircode" position="mid" title="Input your Eircode to check whether SIRO is available at your location"]
Last year, Engineers Ireland reported that female engineers represented only 12% of the profession in Ireland. Research from the Higher Education Authority also indicated that just 23% of engineering graduates were female.  Every year, International Women in Engineering Day is held on 23 June, to provide a platform for women working in the engineering field. The day aims to educate, promote, and encourage females on having a career in this sector, highlighting the opportunities there are in choosing this as a career path.  SIRO promotes women in leadership, with 35% of leadership roles in our company being fulfilled by women. To mark International Women in Engineering Day this year, we asked some of the women in SIRO in engineering roles, what being a woman in engineering means to them.   Read below to find out their thoughts and insights.  

What does it mean to be a woman in engineering in Ireland? 

  SIRO Chief Technology Officer, Suzanne Tracy, says:  “Over the years I have realised that engineers are dealers in problems, working through a collection of challenges and finding solutions. Essentially, we are professional problem solvers! Day to day this can mean you are handed all the difficult issues to resolve. Problem-solvers have great scope to take ownership and make a difference.    Throughout my career in telecoms, I have always been in the minority gender, in that there have always been more males on my team and within my peer group. This has never held me back. I often say, ‘don’t be afraid of hard work’, giving that bit extra at work is something you will benefit from.   For me, being an engineer has given me a varied and fulfilling career.  I have worked for one of SIRO’s parent companies for 24 years, and during that time, I managed large IT operations teams, consolidated infrastructure into centralised data centres, and insourced and offshored technical teams, on a global scale.   Today I am responsible for the design, rollout, and customer connections on SIRO’s full fibre network, including all our IT Infrastructure that supports our business.  I truly enjoy the tangible nature of the role. We grow our network daily and we connect customers to our reliable, quality fibre network daily.”    SIRO Senior Commercial Engineer, Stella Walsh, says:  “Qualifying as an engineer has provided me with many job opportunities from various companies. I became an engineer primarily to make a difference. Throughout my career I have been a part of various projects which helped create a sense of teamwork, and that also been rewarding on a personal level.  My current role within SIRO, allows me to collaborate on a life changing project (for many homes and businesses nationwide) with my colleagues. Our work enables them to access high-speed, reliable fibre broadband, to help with their day-to-day activities and makes their lives that bit easier.   My work as an engineer has allowed me to be part of important projects which implement innovation and creativity to develop and design sustainable solutions. I am proud to challenge traditional views on sustainable construction. I do this every day, through the planning, design and build stages of SIRO’s fibre network.”  SIRO FMR (Fibre Make Ready) Program Manager, Ailin Suarez, says:  “In my eyes, it does not matter if you are a man or a woman. It is a privilege to be part of the engineering industry, an industry that is forever changing, always challenging and one that never stops looking at ways to innovate and make the world a better place.  Our society has evolved, and the landscape of engineering is ever changing. Not only are we seeing an increase in the use of technology, innovation, and sustainability in the industry, but we are also seeing more women entering the field.  Despite the progress that’s been made towards gender equality, this field remains heavily male-dominated. As a woman in engineering, I feel I have a responsibility to promote women in the industry, to achieve gender-balanced teams, creating a diversity of thought, which in turn leads to greater innovation. I always try to lead by example by being the best leader that I can be.  Through my role in SIRO, I get to do what I love and what makes me feel empowered. I think it’s important that females working in a similar position to me mentor other women. We have to recognise the importance of our role in our companies and society, and not shy away from stepping up and leading.”  SIRO Junior Engineer, Emily O’ Reilly, says:  “Being a woman in engineering means having the opportunity to design and reshape the world we live in for the better. It allows us to take on problems and find creative ways to solve them. It means being part of a bigger team to work together on projects that impact the future.   I believe it empowers you to constantly develop and improve your work, and to adopt a curious mindset. In my role, every day is different, and each day involves me trying to figure different things out, so I’m constantly learning new ways of doing things.”    To find out more about International Women in Engineering Day visit here   Read more about SIRO’s sustainability strategy, and our focus on gender equality here 
Today, we are proud to announce that we have passed our 500,000th premise with our full fibre broadband network as part of our open access broadband billion-euro network rollout. Naas-based VEI Global, a managed IT services provider, is the 500,000th premises to have access to our fibre broadband network – a significant milestone for our roll-out programme. VEI Global provides comprehensive ICT services to a wide range of clients, domestically and internationally. VEI Global collaborates with global integration partners and works with clients such as University College Cork, Phoenix Gas, Lynas Foods, South Dublin County Council, and CIE. VEI is currently in the process of implementing a WAAS solution for the European Parliament, covering an extensive network across 27 countries and 50 sites. [caption id="attachment_8346" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Pictured at the announcement are Vodafone Ireland CEO, Amanda Nelson, VEI Global co-CEO and founder, Conor Killeen, VEI Global co-CEO and founder, Lloyd O’Rourke, ESB Deputy CEO, Marguerite Sayers and SIRO CEO, John Keaney.
Photo: Julien Behal Photography[/caption] Until now, with limited broadband alternatives available, VEI Global had been dependent on an outdated copper connection while awaiting the arrival of our fibre network in their area. However, with the company's expansion, including the establishment of a 24/7 managed services team, having reliable connectivity has become a critical requirement. By gaining access to our extensive fibre network, VEI Global has successfully resolved latency issues, enhanced productivity, and significantly improved the overall experience for their hybrid workforce. Since our establishment in 2015, we have gone onto establish an alternative telecoms infrastructure in Ireland as part of a billion-euro investment programme. We now have over twenty retailers such as Virgin Media, Vodafone and Sky offering its services to half a million homes and businesses across the country. Our unique infrastructure, which leverages the ESB electricity network, means that we have no legacy copper network at any point on its system, enabling us to offer a 100% fibre optic Fibre-to-the-Building service – recognised as the gold standard for broadband connectivity globally. This has enabled us to become the first broadband operator to make speeds of 2 Gigabits available to residential customers and the first to fully upgrade our network to allow for future speeds of up to 25 Gigabits in the years to come. [caption id="attachment_8345" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Pictured at the announcement are VEI Global co-CEO and founder Conor Killeen, SIRO CEO John Keaney, Vodafone Ireland CEO, Amanda Nelson ESB Deputy Chief Executive Marguerite Sayers and VEI Global co-CEOs and founder, Lloyd O'Rourke.
Photo: Julien Behal Photography[/caption] According to VEI Global co-CEO and founder Lloyd O’Rourke:
The SIRO broadband connection will enhance our company's productivity and reliability, eliminating the daily frustrations of connectivity lags, dropped calls, and slow uploads. Having access to real-time statistics is crucial to our managed service offerings as it allows us to proactively address any potential, future issues.
VEI Global co-CEO and founder Conor Killeen commented:
"Over the past 13 years, we have experienced tremendous success, and we hold even greater aspirations for the future. SIRO's involvement will play a pivotal role in expanding our business and, more importantly, in elevating the level of service we deliver to our valued customers in Ireland and across the globe."
SIRO CEO John Keaney noted:
Since our early days as a start-up broadband operator, with big ambition and challenges rolling out a new broadband network, our purpose has always been to reach into communities across Ireland and give them access to standard of connectivity as good as anywhere else in the world. “As we reach 500,0000 premises passed with SIRO’s full fibre network, it is satisfying to see that purpose being realised. Homes and businesses up and down the country accessing our network are living and working in new and more sustainable ways. “For SIRO, today is a significant milestone. However, there are still, many towns, communities, homes and businesses where outdated copper broadband continues to hold them back. SIRO remains focused on the work still left to do – to continue our rollout to ensure more homes and businesses can access our network,” added Mr. Keaney.
Commenting, ESB Deputy Chief Executive, Marguerite Sayers, said:
“I am delighted to be at VEI Global today – a great Naas success story – for this significant milestone. It is a testament to the success of SIRO in connecting communities right across Ireland. “Half a million families and businesses can now gain access to ultra-fast fibre broadband as SIRO continues with its programme to deliver for communities into the future.” 
Vodafone Ireland CEO, Amanda Nelson said: As we celebrate 500,000 homes and businesses who can access SIRO’s network; it marks an important milestone for SIRO, our joint venture with ESB. Our goal has always been to deliver high speed connectivity to more rural communities, people and businesses across Ireland. 
“Supporting communities with critical digital infrastructure is vital to enabling them to thrive now and into the future. It underpins business growth and development as well as connected education and healthcare. “It is fantastic to see businesses just like VEI Global, compete on a global stage supported by high-speed connectivity. We are looking forward to connecting more homes and businesses as we continue to bring world-class fibre broadband to towns and communities across Ireland.’
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Today we are proud to announce that homes and businesses in both Duleek and Kells can now avail of its 100% fibre broadband. Our fibre broadband network will bring high-speed, future-proofed connectivity to over 2,500 homes and businesses across Duleek and Kells. The initial build works in Kells commenced in April 2022 and in Duleek in August 2022 with works completed in both towns at the end of May.

What areas in Kells can get SIRO?

Areas in Kells which will benefit from SIRO’s roll out include (but are not limited to): Cherryhill, Headfort, Bective, Taylor Hall, Church Street and Lane, Balrath Wood, Suffolk Street, The Glebe and more.

What areas in Duleek can get SIRO?

Areas in Duleek which will benefit from SIRO’s roll out include (but are not limited to): Ashbourne Road, Main Street, Church Lane, Riverview, Ashvale Court, Larrix Street, Balsaran Close, Bathe Abbey, Cill Carban and more. SIRO is a joint venture between ESB and Vodafone delivering full fibre broadband to towns and cities across Ireland. Our network uses the existing ESB electricity network to bring connectivity to the heart of homes and businesses. Our network is available in 130 towns across Ireland and almost 500,000 premises. We are a wholesaler broadband provider which means that consumers and businesses can order their full fibre broadband from one of our twenty retail partners, including Virgin Media, Vodafone, Sky, Digiweb, Pure Telecom and Fastcom.

Where is SIRO already available in Meath?

SIRO has already connected over 20,000 premises across 11 Meath towns including: Ashbourne, Dunboyne, Enfield, Mornington, Rathoath, Trim, Bettystown, Dunshaughlin, Laytown, Navan and Stamullen. To date, almost 500,000 premises can access SIRO’s reliable network. Commenting on the announcement, SIRO Chief Executive Officer John Keaney said:
“Duleek and Kells are the latest towns in Meath to benefit from SIRO’s high-speed connectivity. As we continue rolling out our fibre broadband network across Meath towns, we have already seen the impact it has had on developing sustainable local communities. “Having access to a stable, future-proofed connection ensures homes and businesses can continue to live and work however they choose, and wherever they choose, without being dependent on larger towns and cities for opportunities. At SIRO, we aim to provide access to high-speed connectivity to both smaller and larger towns across the country, to develop digital societies and keep Ireland’s economy thriving. “We look forward to seeing the positive impact that SIRO’s full fibre broadband can have on these towns in the months and years to come, as they continue to grow, develop supported by SIRO’s network.
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