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Luas to market its infrastructure to telecom operators

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Graffiti at Fatima Luas stop.

Photo: Tony Gavin  7/12/2012

Graffiti at Fatima Luas stop. Photo: Tony Gavin 7/12/2012

Graffiti at Fatima Luas stop. Photo: Tony Gavin 7/12/2012

LUAS stops, bridges, cables and other infrastructure on the light rail system are being marketed to telecoms operators under a proposal expected to generate annual six-figure sums.

Mobile phone companies already use some Luas facilities on a small scale, but the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) is capitalising on the growing mobile internet market and the explosion of cloud services to encourage telecoms companies to expand that usage.

The RPA said the time was right to market the infrastructure on a wider basis to telecoms companies in a bid to generate revenue.

"We believe that timing is right for this initiative mostly because of the trends in the telecoms industry, for instance the penetration of mobile devices connected to internet and the explosion of cloud services," an RPA spokesman said.

"The requirements of these users in terms of capacity and quality of service is urging operators to upgrade their networks at a time when investment capital is relatively limited.

"Exploiting an existing infrastructure is, in these conditions, a viable proposition."

The RPA is the body responsible for building and operating the tram system in the capital, and owns infrastructure in large parts of Dublin city and county.

The commercial semi-state said that previous attempts to exploit the infrastructure predate recent market trends and are "not comparable to the present initiative".

It comes as construction work begins next month on the Luas extension – the Cross City line – which will run from St Stephen's Green to Broombridge, north of Cabra, and cater for up to ten million passengers a year.

The Luas Red line, which runs from Tallaght to the Dublin docklands, is 20.7km in length and has 32 stops. The Green line extends from Bride's Glen in the south east of the capital to St Stephen's Green, and runs for 16.5km with 22 stops.

Attractive

The RPA said the Luas infrastructure has features that are "very attractive" to telecom providers and has the potential to support the delivery of a range of communication and wireless services.

"It penetrates very busy parts of the city and it is a secure infrastructure. Telecoms assets that form part of the light rail are better protected from accidental damage than cables installed in ducts under a road because access to Luas for construction works is strictly regulated," the RPA spokesman added.

However, the commercial semi-state could not state specifically how much revenue it expected to take in through the scheme.

Irish Independent