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Why 10 Gigabits, Why Now?

On 1 June last, SIRO launched its’ 10 Gigabit (10G) enabled broadband network in Galway city. The first city in Ireland to have this high speed, large bandwidth network at its disposal. At the end August, SIRO’s entire fibre broadband network was upgraded to 10 Gigabits. This €10 million, 15-month upgrade project includes our full existing SIRO network, i.e., 450,000+ premises we have already passed and the further 320,000 we are in the process of passing right now.

10G: what is it?

From the middle of last year, SIRO began the process of upgrading its’ existing network to a 10 Gigabit network using XGS-PON technology. G-PON stands for Gigabit PON or 1 Gigabit PON. The “X” in XGS represents the number 10, and the letter “S” stands for symmetrical, XGS-PON = 10 Gigabit Symmetrical PON. The upgrade allows SIRO to turbo-charge our existing network from a one Gigabit network to a network providing up to 10G connections which are symmetrical (same upload and download speeds), much more reliable, with lower latencies and better security.

The point of a 10G network is the flexibility to scale up seamlessly as your data demands grow. One Gigabit to two, four, six Gigabits and so on

What can it do?

One of the most prominent and headline grabbing aspects of 10 G is speed, specifically speed of data transfer. 10 Gbps lets you transfer at a rate of 1.25 GB/s when you copy a file to another computer across the SIRO network. This equates to sending a 20 GB file in under 20 seconds. At SIRO we know, that at least for the short-to-medium term, end users of this much larger bandwidth will be enterprise/business users vs. residential consumers. It makes sense. It is businesses, whether small or large, who typically move large data sets. However, the number of businesses who falls into this category is not as niche as it once might have been. As ever more intensive applications run on our servers or are stored in the Cloud, the amount of data created, stored and transferred increases each day. Add in the growing automation of once manual tasks and the need for high-speed internet as the key enabler of these processes becomes clear.

10G will become the technology platform for this phase of digital adaptation across the world. It will ensure that technology in our lives becomes even more embedded and integrated

Speed and bandwidth are also important for business where large numbers of colleagues and clients need to connect at once. Both now have an expectation of being able to access services when they require them and that this access is dependable and consistent. Business, for reasons of productivity, reputation and of course the bottom line, cannot afford to have any bottlenecks in their connectivity which can hold their business back. Businesses with many employees and multiple clients all logging on at the same time are obvious candidates for much higher speeds. Yet over recent years as our use of digital technologies has grown, it has spawned new types of business which are equally heavy data users. Businesses in the creative sector is one example. While they may not be big in terms of employee head count, they are big users of data. Think content creators in advertising, digital or marketing agencies, animators, film or videographers, game design – all transferring large files each day. Though smaller companies, the creative sector in its’ totality is a significant sector, employing up to 5% of the Irish workforce or about 100,000.

Do I need 10G?

In truth, it depends. If you are an individual, doing video editing, streaming, audio production, activities which involve a large amount of data and if your workflow currently lags due to slow speeds, then likely you do need to move up the Gigabit ranks from the standard one Gigabit to higher speeds. The point of a 10G network is the flexibility to scale up seamlessly as your data demands grow. One Gigabit to two, four, six Gigabits and so on. The use case is much clearer if you are a business or enterprise. If your business has large file sizes to deal; you use HD streaming or your company is growing in terms of capability or headcount, then there is a real risk of congestion on your network necessitating larger bandwidth.

10G will become the technology platform for this phase of digital adaptation across the world.

An important additional benefit of SIRO’s 10G network is affordability. Previously access to high-speed point-to-point (P2P) services was largely just available to very big organisations with substantial IT budgets. With this upgrade SIRO have changed that market limiting dynamic.

A 10 Gigabit Future?

Just as when once the need for one Gigabit broadband met with questions on the use case of that level of bandwidth; some might today ask a similar question of 10 Gigabit broadband. Those of us who have seen the relentless march of data demands, know better than to ask that question anymore. Instead, the more pertinent question for business and society to consider are what processes and technologies (many, not yet invented) can this level of bandwidth unlock for the benefit of all? 10G will become the technology platform for this phase of digital adaptation across the world. It will ensure that technology in our lives becomes even more embedded and integrated. Healthcare professionals will monitor and diagnose their patients remotely in real-time, our students will collaborate and learn not just from their classmates but with other children across the world and virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) will change many aspects of how we live from retail, to home entertainment, to the world of work. In SIRO we have always sought to drive innovation in the Irish broadband market to make the probable, possible. Today’s focus may be on 10 Gigabits, but the direction of journey to 25 Gigabits is already coming into view. To find out if your business can avail of SIRO for Business, please visit www.siro.ie/search-your-eircode
It’s that time of year where students big and small return to school with heavy backpacks and refreshed minds, while parents feel relieved that routine and lessons are back. We’re used to the regular checklist of back-to-school with pens, paper, and countless books, but what about a reliable broadband connection?   The pandemic demonstrated how connectivity supported the education sector, with classes pivoting online via video call platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Teachers and students alike showcased agility while traversing a new way of learning. In 2021, SIRO’s Director of People and Culture Blanaid O’Regan wrote about how e-learning is transforming the delivery of education, and the need to learn from the pandemic experiences – good and bad – and build on them.  At the same time, Ireland’s Department of Education was finalising its Digital Strategy for Education. In April 2022, it was published. It’s a five-year strategy to 2027 and follows on from its’ predecessor which concluded in 2020.   Digital learning is about using digital technologies and tools in a variety of ways and location, whether as a group or individual, in the classroom, at home or in other settings.  Embedding digital technologies and adopting digital approaches to classroom learning in our primary and post-primary education system is both a huge challenge and opportunity. To ensure that the new strategy was fit for purpose, the Department, wisely, commissioned a review of the previous Strategy.   While there were many positives, it also exposed the work still be completed. This included the fact that digital technologies were not a feature of teaching and learning in 45% and 38% of primary and post-primary schools. That many teachers still struggled to access the professional development needed to deploy digital technologies was another standout finding.   In contrast, where digital technologies were well embedded it was held that, “having access to high-speed and dependable broadband was one of the key supporting factors.”  To be fair, the new Strategy is working to address the imbalance between those in our education system with reliable broadband and those without high quality access.   It has set a target that all primary and post-primary schools will have access to a minimum of 100 Mbps and 200 Mbps respectively by 2023. This will be realised by a range of financial measures, including a €15 million per annum broadband fund.   The commitment to have a further funding envelope to allow for further broadband speed upgrades is also welcome and necessary. This is particularly the case where Gigabit speeds are fast becoming the norm as the footprint of fibre broadband stretches ever further across Ireland.   Having the backbone for digital technologies - reliable, high quality and future proofed broadband connectivity - is, without question, key. But so too is ensuring our schools have access to the expertise to deploy it in the correct way, maximise its potential and be sufficiently knowledgeable to troubleshoot when required.  The benefits of digital learning not only extend to primary and post-primary, but for all levels. Third level institutions have long offered flexible learning options through online courses for those working full time.  The tendency to rely on the sole teacher who is “good with technology” is something specifically called out in the Strategy and sensibly the Department is now looking to examine new procurement mechanisms to give all schools access to technology experts.   When it comes to the delivery of education, it is not just as simple as online/remote  vs. classroom learning and numerous studies examining which approach works best have shown different findings, depending on who or what was being asked.   Digital learning is about using digital technologies and tools in a variety of ways and locations, whether as a group or individual, in the classroom, at home or in other settings. What does matter hugely is digital literacy and adoption by students, teachers, and their parents too.  The benefits of digital learning not only extend to primary and post-primary, but for all levels. Third level institutions have long offered flexible learning options through online courses, including for those working full time. This demand for e-learning at further and higher-level educational settings looks set to grow.   During the current accommodation crisis facing students, while far from ideal, online education may be the difference for some between pursuing their course albeit online or not at all.   The new Digital Strategy for Education will make a significant contribution to improving the access to digital technologies in school setting and with-it digital literacy. However, the other vital cog in the wheel is to ensure high quality connectivity in the home.   For parents, having a reliable, steady, internet connection removes any stress from the learning process, so you and your child can focus on the homework at hand. The broadband landscape is changing on a monthly basis and the availability of high speed, future proofed broadband is reaching more areas day-by-day. If fibre broadband wasn’t an option when the last school year kicked off, just 12 months ago, it may be now.   It’s always worth checking your Eircode to confirm availability in your area, for your peace of mind and your kids!
SIRO, the broadband network operator, has today announced that its fibre broadband network is now a 10 Gigabit network. SIRO’s announcement comes following the completion of a €10 million investment upgrade programme, implemented to ensure the company’s network can deliver the fastest speeds available. SIRO’s decision to make 10 Gigabit speeds available is driven by the ever-increasing data demands of enterprise year-on-year and the necessity to have a future proofed network primed to respond to the needs of businesses. SIRO, a joint venture between ESB and Vodafone, is currently rolling out a 100% fibre broadband network across 154 towns and cities across Ireland, with services currently available to 450,000+ premises and reaching 770,000 premises over the next four years. In October 2021, SIRO launched 2 Gigabit speeds for the residential market. Today’s announcement of 10 Gigabits is initially focused on the enterprise market. The latter have a need to progressively scale up their bandwidth from 2 Gigabits up to 10 Gigabits in the short to medium term. The upgrade to 10 Gigabits reflects SIRO’s ambition to continuously bring innovation to the Irish broadband market. SIRO is Ireland’s sole open-access wholesale-only broadband operator and was first to introduce 1 Gigabit broadband to Irish homes. It is now stretching its offering further with speeds of 2 Gigabits for residential and up to 10 Gigabits for enterprise customers, respectively. The benefits of multi-gigabit speeds include: Ensure fastest speeds: Symmetrical speeds up to ten times faster than the best standard currently available of up to 1 Gigabit. A 10 Gigabit connection can transfer 1 Gigabit of data in 0.8 seconds or upload a file of 20 Gigabits in under 20 seconds. Provide scalable connectivity: A future-proofed connection to support the increasing number of connected devices used by businesses. Enhance cyber protection: Enhanced data and network protection by facilitating network management systems which reduce cybersecurity risks. Support new technologies: The bandwidth to integrate emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, 3D technology or voice recognition tools. Commenting on the announcement, SIRO CEO, John Keaney, said: “For SIRO, completing our transition to a 10 Gigabit-enabled network is about ensuring we continue to lead the market in terms of delivering on Ireland’s future broadband needs for the decades ahead. “All aspects of business processes and operations are increasingly digitised. Reliable and future proofed connectivity is the foundation upon which they all rest. “This upgrade gives enterprises the opportunity to plan and scale up their bandwidth requirements as their data demands and business requirements grow. Rather than wait for the broadband infrastructure to catch up, businesses can now have the certainty that they can access higher speeds and capacity as and when they need it,” added Mr. Keaney. To find out if you can avail of 10 Gigabit today, check your Eircode today! [lookup_modal type="eircode" button-text="Search Your Eircode Today" position="mid" title="Search Your Eircode Today"]
Amit Kapur author Ireland is renowned across the world as a hub for innovation and growth. According to recent data from CRIFVision-net, there were 25,695 new start-ups in Ireland last year, showing an increase of 17% from the previous year. Access to funding is one key reason why there has been a significant rise in start-ups in recent years. Large amounts of funding have been provided to aid new start-ups in the country, with findings from a survey by the Irish Venture Capital Association showing that in 2021 €1.3 billion venture capital funding was acquired for Irish tech-based SMEs and start-ups. For Irish entrepreneurs, starting up a business can be both a challenging and exciting time. Businesses starting out have a lot to consider before they begin operating, and with the pace of digitisation accelerating, the application of this technology in the most effective and productive manner is an essential for start-ups.

Key technology considerations for start-ups include:

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a fundamental issue for any business in our digital era. Start-ups, in their infancy are often most at risk to cybersecurity attacks. So, it’s important that start-ups consider how they are going to protect their customers, business operations and employees from external threats. Implementing simple and cost-effective measures such as two-factor authentication or investing in a threat detection system will help keep your business secure. In addition, a good practice is to backup data regularly, so that in the case of an attack, important data is kept safe. A recent survey conducted by a renowned Irish ISP found that one in five Irish businesses had yet to put a cyber security policy in place within their firm. This is alarming as businesses, especially smaller/newer ones, are easier targets for cyber-attacks. Cyber threats can often occur due to human error, making staff awareness of the risks essential. While budgets might be tight for start-ups there are tonnes of free online training and resources available which businesses can avail of.

Social Media

Software company, Sprout Social, notes that as of January 2022, there are 3.96 billion total social media users across all platforms. From this, it is clear to see why many businesses are opting to have an online presence to drive brand awareness and/or direct sales. Having a social media presence is key, as it allows new firms to directly engage with the public, to create a brand identity, and overall to increase brand awareness attracting new customers. Sprout Social research also found that that 55% of consumers learn about new brands on social media. When deciding to use social media to promote your business, it is important to choose which platforms to use, taking into account your businesses target audience, goals and product. Small businesses may not be able to afford to be on all platforms, so choosing the correct platforms will be crucial for the firm’s performance. Lyfe marketing outlines the top 6 social media platforms for businesses in 2022, which are Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Data analytics

According to analytics platform, MicroStrategy, 59% of organisations around the world use big data analytics. Data analytics can be an extremely useful tool to integrate into your new business. Using analytics can help entrepreneurs identify trends and patterns, identify issues and areas to improve, and overall can help develop goals and strategies for going forward. Analysing analytics can also help new businesses measure performance of campaigns and identify what generates clicks/traffic to their website and social media impressions. By analysing this data, firms will have a better understanding of their target market and know how to generate better responses to their campaigns and posts. image of graph

Access to Wi-Fi

Something which can often be overlooked is the importance of having a stable Wi-Fi connection. The biggest rationale for high quality connectivity include support for business operations, use of Cloud technology, automation and online sales. In addition, researching competitors, identifying the target market, engaging with staff via Teams or other video call meetings and the general every day running of the business, all rely on having a good connection. For business, access to good quality Wi-Fi, no longer means just access to your own office building. Fibre broadband is changing both how and where work takes places. Start-ups have greater leeway to be more flexible about their business location. Digital hubs assist businesses across Ireland by providing them with access to gold standard connectivity locally, so that their new/existing business can thrive. Choosing to operate from a digital hub could be a cost-effective way of bringing a new business to life, whilst also bringing teams together in person. Equally, many start-ups have chosen to work fully remote and again the importance of a reliable broadband connection cannot be overstressed, in terms of the overall ambition and success of the business. image of three people looking at a laptop in an office To find out if SIRO is available to your new business click here SIRO 100% Fibre Broadband, Ireland's Fastest Broadband for Business
SIRO, the broadband network operator, have today launched its new 100% fibre broadband network in Maynooth. SIRO’s broadband network will bring world class connectivity to 2,500 homes and businesses in Maynooth, with an investment of €4 million in the town. Areas within the town set to benefit include Main Street, O'Neill Park, Parson Street, Leinster Street, Pound Lane, Dublin Road, Doctor's Lane, Bere Street, Carton Grove, Carton Square, Pebble Hill Park, Limetree Hall, and Back Lane. With 600 homes and businesses already live and available to order, SIRO’s roll-out in Maynooth to a remaining 2,000 premises is ongoing and expected to complete by end September. SIRO’s investment in a new broadband network for Maynooth is part of the company’s ongoing fibre rollout across Ireland targeting 154 cities and towns and 770,000 premises. SIRO’s full fibre network in Maynooth is available to both residential and business customers. Maynooth Business Campus (MBC), which has over 100 national and multinational companies operating within it, is just one of the commercial locations where SIRO is already available. SIRO’s network in Maynooth is 10 Gigabit-enabled which means that enterprise customers can now avail of broadband speeds which will meet their current and further bandwidth requirements. Maynooth is the ninth Kildare town to go live on the SIRO network, with 30,000 premises in Naas, Athy, Johnstown, Kildare, Clane, Newbridge, Sallins and Prosperous are already able to connect to its future-proofed, gigabit broadband. a photo of racehorses on a racecourse with a map of Kildare in the foreground SIRO is a joint venture company between ESB and Vodafone, founded in 2015. SIRO’s state-of-the-art fibre broadband network is built on the ESB electricity infrastructure, trusted for its reliability and resilience. Overall, the company is investing more than €1 billion in delivering high speed, future proofed broadband across Ireland. Commenting on SIRO’s launch in Maynooth, SIRO CEO John Keaney said: “Maynooth has been hugely successfully in attracting high quality investment and jobs into the town in recent decades. Added to that its status as home to one of Ireland’s leading universities, makes having high quality, reliable and future proofed connectivity critical. “SIRO is delighted to announce the arrival of its network in Maynooth. High quality connectivity is now the foundation of how we live, work, study and engage with others. Our network provides a platform for individuals, families, communities, and businesses to do all these activities. “We are focused on delivering the highest quality of broadband services, a reliable network, and the capacity to meet data demands today, without fear of lag or downtime, but also, future demand with our 10 Gigabit capacity. Our network rollouts in Kildare towns have been hugely positive to date so we are excited to now expand to Maynooth,” added Mr. Keaney SIRO as an open access wholesaler, partners with 20 broadband retailers across Ireland, to ensure that customers and businesses enjoy greater choice and competition. Retailers offering SIRO residential or enterprise broadband products include: Digiweb, Sky, Vodafone, Fastcom, Telcom, Viatel and Pure Telecom. [lookup_modal type="eircode" button-text="Search Your Eircode Today" position="mid" title="Search Your Eircode Today"]
With the rush to the beach or getting time away after two years of COVID-induced lockdowns, you might have missed the news of Amazon’s most recent acquisition this summer. On 21 July, Amazon announced that it had acquired One Medical, in a cash deal valued at $3.9 billion. One Medical is a membership-based primary care practice which provides healthcare to patients through a combination of in-person, digital and virtual care services in locations across the U.S. The company is using technology to drive innovation in primary healthcare such as by allowing online booking for GP appointments or text messaging with doctors, in addition to 24/7 on demand tele-healthcare. It has also built its own medical records technology from the ground up to help doctors better manage patient relationships. One Medical was one of the earliest companies in the U.S. to recognise the enormous potential of technology to improve both access to and quality of healthcare. Amazon’s SVP of Health Services, Neil Lindsay, summed up the opportunity when he noted:

“…. healthcare is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention.”

“Booking an appointment, waiting weeks or even months to be seen, taking time off work, driving to a clinic, finding a parking spot, waiting in the waiting room then the exam room for what is too often a rushed few minutes with a doctor, then making another trip to a pharmacy – we see lots of opportunity to both improve the quality of the experience and give people back valuable time in their days”

While the agreement was met with some discussion around the risk of Big Tech and the privacy of patient health information, it equally met with optimistic commentary on the ability of Amazon to bring much-needed efficiencies and improved customer experience to health care, as it has to retail shopping. The caveat is that the healthcare is different from purchasing new trainers given its nature and the fact that some costs just cannot be squeezed. But its’ certainly true that technology, and the high-quality broadband connectivity upon which it is based, can fundamentally change how healthcare is delivered and how patients experience it. Primary care is just Amazon’s latest move into health care. The company acquired online pharmacy PillPack in 2018 for over $700 million and launched its own online prescription delivery service Amazon Pharmacy in 2020. There are also rumours that Amazon is considering starting a new digital therapy and counselling platform. Whether, or not, Amazon’s foray into healthcare is the commoditisation of health and whether that’s a good or bad thing is beside the point. The truth is that as Neil Lindsay put it “healthcare is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention.” Technology across all aspects of our lives has put power back in the hands of people, broken down unnatural and societal barriers to equality of access in areas as diverse as education, travel or share trading. Yet healthcare, particularly patient experience of accessing care, remains one of the few sectors where the impact of connectivity and digital technologies doesn’t appear to have made as much cut through. While most activities can be booked online such as a haircut or an NCT for a car, why not an appointment with a GP? Equally, in Ireland’s hospital system there is no single digital health record for each patient to provide a catch-all record of a patient’s lifelong medical history. Instead, 85% of all hospital records remain paper-based and hospitals can’t access GP data and vice versa.

85% of all hospital records are still paper based.

Accelerated changed and faster digital uptake in healthcare is achievable. The pandemic showed us what’s possible, albeit in response to an emergency situation. The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme was predominantly over a digital platform. The move to e-prescriptions also during the pandemic – stalled for years prior to that - rapidly simplified and enhanced prescription practices overnight. Patients, too, managed to successfully navigate both processes. The digital win’s during COVID in Irish healthcare can continue. With groups like the Irish Digital Health Leadership Group, a collective of health, IT and patient experts, looking to accelerate the timelines for delivery.

In Ireland we have a wealth of health tech companies, many who are world leaders in their field whose expertise can be tapped into to develop local solutions for Irish patients.

Examples include, SilverCloudHealth, which has delivered online mental health programmes to over a million individuals and 500 organisations globally, including in Ireland. LetsGetChecked is another Irish-grown company making waves in healthcare internationally. The company offers more than 30 home diagnostic tests in the categories of sexual health, women’s health, men’s health, wellness and coronavirus, with more than seven million tests delivered worldwide to date. In addition, in the U.S. its’ users can order medication online. Health Beacon, a patient medication management system, is just another further example of an Irish company growing rapidly overseas. Added to these is the strong presence of global med-tech and pharma FDA companies dotted across Ireland, all whose expertise could be brought to bear. The Government has set a target of all homes and businesses having access to a Gigabit network by 2028. Through the work of commercial broadband network operators such as  SIRO or National Broadband Ireland people in every corner of Ireland will have reliable and secure connectivity. At a time in Ireland when wait times for accessing health services can be long, reinventing healthcare delivery and expanding investment in digital health services could offer a solution to ensure faster access to care for many. [lookup_modal type="eircode" button-text="Search Your Eircode Today" position="mid" title="Search Your Eircode Today"]
Additional to Virgin Media’s own network reach of 1m premises, this new partnership enables Virgin Media to offer services to over 450,000 currently enabled SIRO premises throughout Ireland, bringing further competition, value and choice to consumers and businesses nationwide. Virgin Media has today announced a network deal with SIRO whereby Virgin Media will offer a full range of services to over 450,000 currently enabled SIRO premises throughout Ireland. Virgin Media Ireland already offers 1Gbps (Gigabit per second) broadband speeds to one million premises across Virgin’s own super-fast network. Virgin Media’s expansion will further drive competition and enable ultrafast digital services by helping businesses and communities connect to Virgin’s broadband and digital TV service in many more locations across Ireland. CEO of Virgin Media, Tony Hanway said: "At Virgin Media we are always pushing the boundaries of speed and service delivery for our customers. Today’s announcement increases our network reach to 70% of all the premises in Ireland. Our new partnership with SIRO means we will be offering our market-leading ultrafast broadband and TV services to more Irish consumers and businesses than ever before.” SIRO CEO John Keaney, welcoming the agreement between SIRO and Virgin Media noted: “SIRO is an open access wholesaler rolling out full fibre broadband to 154 towns and 770,000 premises across Ireland. Our objective is to deliver our world class connectivity to communities and businesses across Ireland, while constantly bringing innovation to the broadband market.”
Headshot of SIRO Regulatory Affairs Manger, Rory Ardagh Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) first began to be used globally in the 1980s. It is effectively a set of communication standards for simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data and other network services over the digitalised circuits of the public telephone network. However globally, even by the end of the 1980s, the technology was already being overtaken by new network systems with much faster speeds. However, not so the case in Ireland. Here, ISDN was introduced and billed as a step change in the digitalisation of the telephone network by Telecom Eireann in 1994, with the promise of multiple direct dial numbers (DDIs) over a single shared bearer. Originally, its capability to communicate video was also a key selling feature, with one of the original users of ISDN in Ireland being Gairmscoil Éinne on Inis Mór where pupils received their German lessons from a teacher on the mainland.

FTTP is a pivot point in terms of connectivity, shifting small and medium businesses into the same tier of connectivity as enterprises

However, over time the hype of ISDN died down, and the primary use case became one of supporting Private Branch Exchange systems (PBX) for businesses of all sizes and type. The use of ISDN in the home, which was a big early Internet access mechanism in Germany and France, never really took off in Ireland. ISDN reached its’ peak in Ireland in 2013, despite being long out of vogue in many countries at that stage. Since then, we have started to witness the slow death of ISDN in Ireland. Graph Representing the slow death of ISDN in Ireland From 2017 onwards the changes in Enterprise Networks and Solutions Architecture have impacted heavily on the use of ISDN access paths. Those key changes include:
  • The move to mobile phones for non-desk bound employees
Apart from the helpdesk, call centre, support teams smart organisations have been moving their employees to a mobile first culture. This has the added advantage of not only ensuring the employee is available for voice interaction, but also that other work productivity tools such as email and apps are to hand. This move from fixed (ISDN) to mobile in the business has lowered the need for an ISDN expense in many businesses.
  • The switch to pure IP networks, both internal and external.
The convergence of network architectures towards IP within the network, between networks and towards the Internet has provided the foundation for organisations to move to All IP services, including VoIP.
  • The switch to Fibre To The Premises (“FTTP”)
The arrival of greater-than-Gigabit Fibre networks, such as SIRO, into the communications cabinets of businesses of all sizes has for the first time brought reliable, high quality, symmetric and unimaginable capacity connectivity at reasonable price points. A FTTP network can easily be segregated to support Voice, Data and Video securely on the same circuit without exaggerated cost. FTTP is a pivot point in terms of connectivity, shifting small and medium businesses into the same tier of connectivity as enterprises and allowing them to unlock the benefits themselves.
  • More complex Distributed User Requirements
COVID-19 has demonstrated the strength of business teams operating away from the office. Whether working from home, hubs or halfway down the N17, ISDN doesn’t cut the mustard. It is inflexible and it connects a place rather than the person. VoIP connectivity works irrespective of location over Wi-Fi / 4G, just like people.
  • The arrival of Cloud PBX and SIP Trunking
Cloud PBX allows for business to treat the cost of the PBX and the ‘line rental’ as a monthly service fee. Sometimes as low as €5 per month per seat with continuously innovating products coming with features such as mobile clients, call centre functionality, CRM integration, real-time reporting and IP handsets that can be located anywhere in the world. While SIP trunking allows for ISDN circuits to be replaced with IP circuits, using the same FTTP connectivity that is in place to provide broadband. Many legacy PBX can be upgraded with SIP Cards, or often a SIP/ISDN convertor can be used.
  • End of Life of ISDN and NTU & PBX Cards
ISDN is so old that Eircom approached Comreg in 2020 seeking to end-of-life the product due to reasons including that manufacturer were no longer making the chipsets for ISDN NTU. The Comreg position was that Eircom should re-use/re-cycle NTUs pulled from the offices of ceasing customers to drag out availability of parts. Meanwhile in the UK, BT has announced the Switch off of ISDN in December 2025. The maintenance costs of legacy PBX with ISDN are increasing and the availability of parts and engineers to keep them running is declining. The risk to a business of a catastrophic fixed voice incident in these scenarios is not trivial.
  • Cost / Price
ISDN is expensive. It is also duplicative. If you have ISDN for voice then you still need a FTTP broadband connection, when you have an FTTP broadband connection, however ISDN is no longer necessary for your voice services.  

The Future of ISDN

The future looks increasingly bleak for ISDN. With a startlingly number, approximately 175,000 Irish voice circuits, still reliant on this much outdated technology, this is no bad thing.
  1. Comreg announced on 29 June 2022 in its Decision Notice D05/22 that Eircom, subject to certain timing constraints, may now cease selling and cease providing ISDN services, following the deregulation of Fixed Access and Call Origination services.
  2. FTTP rollout is accelerating, with SIRO covering over 770,000 Irish premises within 4 years.
  3. VoIP, whether through SIP Trunks or Cloud PBX is the recognised future proof investment for fixed voice connections for businesses.
  4. Copper Switch Off – including PSTN and ISDN – is already being deliberated upon by Comreg.
However, from a business perspective, the future is bright: The switch from ISDN to SIRO 100% Fibre Broadband, through your retailer, to enable the delivery of fixed voice to your business will:
  1. Save your business money.
  2. Lower your business risk of fixed voice outages and ISDN cessation.
  3. Enable your teams to work more flexibly, fluidly and freely; and
  4. Increase the positive intensity of your voice interactions with your customers using innovative Cloud PBX features such as CRM integration and Virtual Call Centres.

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SIRO’s Employee Experience Manager and Executive Assistant to the CEO (Chief Executive Officer), Gillian Quigley, explores digital wellbeing apps, mental health, and the importance of staying connected. They say these days that there’s an app for everything. An app to order food or clothes, to stream your favourite shows, and even to adjust the temperature within your home. But what about an app to improve your mental health?  General wellbeing and morale over the course of the past three years has naturally dipped because of strict restrictions, lockdowns and varying levels of anxiety within society. People yearned for diverse ways to connect when the effects of loneliness in Ireland was higher than ever before. 51% of people admitted that the pandemic influenced their mental health, with loneliness in Ireland doubling in 2021, as a result. It’s completely understandable that people would begin to feel more anxious, depressed, isolated or even paranoid when uncertainty was the norm for so long.  It’s not all bad, though. On the flip side, mental health awareness is at an all-time high. This is thanks in no small part to digital health and wellbeing apps gaining in popularity, due to increased awareness campaigns by health services and influencers. In a 2021 survey by St. Patricks Mental Health Hospital, 72% of those surveyed, believe Irish society is more open to talking about mental health issues since the onset of the pandemic. Not only that, but health services have also transitioned their practices to digital platforms to improve accessibility for patients. As an Employee Experience Manager at SIRO, understanding what platforms can help your employee’s morale and general wellbeing is a key aspect of the job. For employees in Ireland, there are many corporate and individual wellbeing platforms, promising a variety of outcomes, with most offering users free programmes through their apps that cover a wide range of health aspects. Meditation, emotional intelligence and wellbeing advice, yoga, and even financial support to name but a few. Being able to manage your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing in your own time, is one of the main reasons health apps have become so popular, especially as we shift into a hybrid, digital way of living. As well as that, it can make what is usually a daunting task easier to manage, as you dip in and out of these services, at times that work for you. SIRO, like other companies provide apps to augment our support resources. However, you may choose to research, evaluate and use your own preferred option. There are many popular and affordable apps that don’t require intervention from your workplace. Some of these apps include , Calm, and Mood Tracker. These platforms allow you to track their moods to identify potentially harmful patterns, allowing them to gain general perspective, combat anxieties and practice mindfulness through meditation or mindfulness. Personally, I use physical wellbeing apps and YouTube channels to help with my mental and physical health – I find exercise a terrific way to alleviate stress and find time for my thoughts. Fitness apps can empower people to take their health into their own hands, and the same can be applied to mental and spiritual health.   It’s important to emphasise that digital wellbeing and health apps are not just a temporary fix for use during the pandemic, but something that will be become a staple for the future. In acknowledging that digital wellbeing apps are a natural progression for health services, with more services coming online each day, it’s important to ensure that your home or business is prepared for this evolution. SIRO’s fibre to the premises broadband is a ‘one size fits all’ type of connectivity that’s resilient enough to handle any video calls, heavy data uploads without a break in signal, when using cloud-based health platforms. The pandemic has shown us that connectivity matters now, more than ever before. Staying connected with your friends, family and your own self is vital to having a positive, healthy state of mind. If you or someone you know are experiencing mental health issues, please contact: www.samaritans.org or 116 123.
The hospitality industry is a vital element of the Irish economy, with the Irish Hotel Federation noting that it accounts for €8.75 billion in annual spending. Every year tourists, domestic and international, and business guests stay in hotels for either leisure or work-related reasons.   Right now, it’s a sellers’ market for accommodation. With the perfect storm of a shortage of supply of rooms, a strong bounce back in consumer demand and a labour shortage, the sector is struggling to meet this demand, whilst also maintaining a high standard of quality and service.  In an increasingly digitising business environment, what role, if any, can digitisation play in alleviating some of these challenges?  The sector has always strived to ensure the customer is king and that it meets and exceeds their expectations. To do so, the evidence suggests that hotels are becoming more attuned to wider societal trends on digital adaptation whether in business or in the home. Research commissioned by SIRO earlier this year on smart homes found an increasing demand for digital and smart devices in our homes. This trend is replicated in the hospitality sector also, where guests equally expect to access smart tech and devices as part of their overall hotel experience. The expectation of guests is likely to be of an even higher magnitude, than within own homes, when they cross the threshold of a hotel. 

The growing digitisation of the hospitality sector:

When arriving at a hotel, one of the first things many guests will typically ask for is the Wi-Fi password. Having a reliable Wi-Fi connection is something naturally expected by guests. This is just the mere starting point, with digitisation at every customer touch point increasingly sought.   In an Irish context, how are hoteliers preparing for the digitisation of the services they provide at their hotels?  At a recent SIRO event in Galway, General Manager of the Galmont hotel, Stefan Lundstrom, gave attendees insights on the ways in which this popular Galway hotel is already accelerating its use of digital technologies. For the Galmont Hotel, like others, its experience of digitisation splits into two functions – digitisation of hotel processes and digitisation of guest experiences.  In relation to hotel processes, this includes utilising Cloud technology to store critical data, increased automation of processes such as purchasing systems and scheduling. In terms of guest experiences, the role of digital tools across the hotel is even more evident. This has included, introduced during COVID-19, a digital application (App.), like a digital waiter, which allows guests to order food and drinks. The process of digitisation is continuing with the hotel exploring digital check-ins, smart locks and the possibility of a robot cocktail maker all on its to-do list.   For hotels digital adaptation can be a case of improving their productivity, particularly during a labour shortage, but also of meeting customer demands. A study conducted in 2020 by Statista found that 62 percent of participants prefer to check-in and out of the hotel they are staying in via a hotel app, instead of at a hotel reception.   Another digital tool which has grown in popularity in recent years is virtual and augmented reality, respectively. A PWC UK report found, that by 2030, VR and AR could bring a €1.4 trillion boost to the economy worldwide.   VR is already a feature in many leading global hotels, becoming an integrated part of the overall hotel experience. Many hotels are now offering VR tours of their hotels. These tours can be made available on hotel websites, allowing guests or potential guests to look at their hotel room, or other parts of the hotel, before they book or before they arrive. Once guests arrive, hotels can continue to use VR to deliver information and allow customers to experience nearby attractions, adding to their stay.  

Other digital trends taking hold in the hotel sector:

  • In the coming years, AI powered technologies and advancements will allow guests to access any resources they need and can have any questions answered through a virtual chat like a digital employee or i-concierge.  
  • Moreover, hotels will implement apps designed to control various aspects guest’s rooms like switching on/off lights or opening and closing the curtains, making the experience more comfortable and convenient for the visitor.  
  • Virgin hotels, a U.S. based hotel chain with branches located in areas like Chicago, Nashville and Dallas has already implemented a process which allows their guests to digitally control their in-room experience. With a guest App called ‘Lucy,’ guests can alter the temperature of their room, order room service and communicate with other hotel guests or hotel staff in real time all through the one application.  
  • Another futuristic feature likely to become the norm in hotels will be the use of smart mirrors. These smart mirrors allow guests to access tv, news or research places to eat or sites to see, all from simply touching the mirror in their hotel room. 

The importance of connectivity:

Globally and here at home in Ireland, digitisation of the hotel sector is gathering pace. COVID normalised and fast-tracked the uptake of digital tools within the sector and consumers have responded favourably to these changes.  The key foundation to these changes is reliable and future proofed connectivity. In June, SIRO launched its 10 Gigabit broadband for enterprise at Galway’s Galmont Hotel. The location was fitting, within the hotel sector, as the number of smart devices in each guest room grows and guests themselves arrive armed with multiple devices, the demand for larger bandwidths will equally expand.   With many hotels already embracing the digital hotel, it’s likely more will follow and guests themselves will increasingly view the digital hotel as an essential part of the overall experience.  If you are in the hospitality sector and want to find out more about SIRO broadband, search your business eircode today to speak with us. 

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