About Project Kelvin

On Stormont Live today a conversation which began on a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report on the Review of Public Administration, and how existing economic disadvantage for two of the new council areas will continue, turned into a single issue discussion – Project Kelvin. Despite being announced on 6th January it seems to be the campaign du jour – even Máirtín’s got involved. The turning point happened, coincidentally, when Jim Fitzpatrick asked Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson whether her party “must share responsibility for increasing the disparity if that’s what happens.” [3min 45 sec in] The decision to set the landfall station at Coleraine was, apparently, a commercial decision by Hibernia Atlantic who already have a network in Ireland, see also their PR YouTube channel, and was also agreed by the Irish government. You can see their point in the proposed network map [pdf file]. There was also a reference by Martina Anderson to an underwater cable making landfall in Wexford and being connected to a telehouse in Dublin. From what I can tell that could be a Global Crossing connection to England. But Hibernia Atlantic use a transatlantic network previously owned by 360Networks and, according to company who designed that network, it’s landfall is in Dublin. [4] ANYhoo.. That conversation is below the fold. Here’s DETI Minister Arlene Foster warning the NI Assembly yesterday of concerns among the companies involved about the complaints.
On Stormont Live Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson and the DUP’s Simon Hamilton on Project Kelvin.. and other matters..

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  • The Raven

    “Pure parochialism” indeed. I’m waiting for someone to start crying about the citing of the University in 1970-something…

    “Coleraine’s gonnae benefit more”? God forbid Derry shouldn’t get something. Especially a millisecond of speed…

  • The Raven

    Oh JESUS!!! I just watched the first vid…there’s McElduff! University! 1960-something!! HAHAHAHAHA

  • Seamus Friel

    The Telehouse was intended to be situated in Derry City all along. This was stated in all the documents relating to the project. One of the main objects of the project was to help the disadvantaged area around Derry by siting the Telehouse there as it would atract inward investment. Part of the funding proposal which was approved also stated that it would link up with Letterkenny and Monaghan. The Dup lobbied for the location of the Telehouse to be changed to Coleraine and miraculously late last year it was changed by the Department in the tender. They claim that they interpreted Derry as Co Derry so Coleraine was fine, ignoring the fact that it was to link with the North West . A bit of a move by them and a not too subtle one!!!
    Hibernia Atlantic will build it in Timuktoo just as long as they are paid and will justify any change that those controlling the process want to make. They are a private company and operate oon the old capitalist system of profit maximisation. DUP have pulled a stroke and are trying to avoid answering the question of who made the last minute change from Derry to Coleraine and exactly when was it made. You have to hand it to the DUP, they don’t pussyfoot about, they go for it!!!
    Gregory Campbell Derry City councillor but MP for Coleraine seems to have gone awol. Radio Foyle have been trying to contact him for days .
    . 1960’s decision on siting of the NUU comes to mind.

  • The Raven

    I think she’s dead right. But I think that Derry should be pushing to get away from the “indifferent” grasp of Belfast unionists. Repartition would be a good move and sooner rather than later we’re going to have to grasp the nettle.

  • seamus friel

    Why don’t we all just move to Belfast or Coleraine.
    In a way you have to admire the DUP they look after the areas in which they are strong.
    The SDLP and Sinn Fein do not. The DUP run rings around them. Maze Sports Stadium, 11 Plus, Kelvin Telehouse, Road infrastructure.
    £300 million to be spent on UU in Belfast and Jordanstown, Laganside, Titanic Quarter etc etc
    For Derry £250 million estimated to be spent over the next 25 years in Magee College – yes 25 years about the same time as the motorway to Toomebridge wiol take.. What a laugh!!! Saddest part, our politicians here in Derry think they are doing a good job!!!

  • The Raven

    Seamus. Should the people of Limavady also be up in arms? After all, when this was originally discussed some years ago, I understand the original landfall was to be in their manor…

    What say you, Seamus, to the fact that in all honesty, this will not make a jot of difference to the outcome?

    Are you saying that when businesses cluster around this link, that people from Derry won’t benefit…? Well I can only put it down to them not knowing the road past Eglinton.

    Do you think that anyone will REALLY lose out from such a powerful link, in a region this small? Sure, revel in the fact that all those overseas companies will go to Coleraine, and when the next economic downturn happens, they’ll all go and leave them up Shit Street.

    Tell you what, let’s start a campaign to shift Seagate from Derry back to the Limavady plant. The rates will be cheaper; the air, cleaner; the roads less congested.

    Sound pathetic? Yeah, I wonder where I got that from.

    Sorry if I sound like I am playing the man/city (stroke…geddit??), but when we talk about a global economy, and then bicker over 28 miles, it all gets a bit much.

  • willis

    Simon Hamilton – where did the DUP get him?

    “An arguement over what I believe is an unmanned portakabin”

    OMG!!!

    Watch the video from 7:00 and see Simon Hamilton’s face as Martina (A not P) talks pure bollocks.

    The fight for Martina’s millisecond begins here!

  • Battler

    Can’t help but think that Slugger has been a bit slow picking up on this – its been dominating Radio Foyle for a week and it seems fairly clear on the facts that the DUP wiped the eyes of SF and the SDLP with it to get it into one of their constituencies. The whole thing has a bit of a bad smell about it and merits some proper digging – when was the decision changed? By whom? In who’s interest? Why were Hibernia Atlantic willing to change their stated plans of some years standing, apparently without public mention of it? There may be more to this than just the parochial whinging of Derry wans…?

  • DC
  • Brussels, 08.X.2008
    C(2008)5600 final

    Subject: State aid N 282/2008 – Ireland
    Direct International Communications Links into NW of Ireland (Project
    Kelvin)

    Sir,

    I. SUMMARY
    (1) I am pleased to be able to inform you that the European Commission has assessed the
    measure “Direct International Communications Links into the NW of Ireland”
    (“Project Kelvin”) and decided not to raise objections as the State aid contained therein
    is compatible with Article 87 (3) (c) of the EC Treaty. …

    (5) The North West of Ireland – which comprises parts of Northern Ireland and the
    Republic of Ireland – (the North West Gateway and the four Council areas of the City
    of Derry2, Donegal, Limavady and Strabane), face issues common to both countries:
    (a) in terms of its economic prosperity relative to other parts of the island; (b) its
    relative isolation and distance from Belfast and Dublin (both actual and perceived), (c)
    its accessibility to key business and tourism markets; and (d) a need for improved and
    better co-coordinated services.
    (6) In order to assess the need for a co-ordinated development policy towards the whole of
    the North West of Ireland, in May 2006, during a meeting of the British Irish Inter-
    Governmental Conference (BIIGC), Ministers agreed to a North West Gateway
    Initiative (NWGI), comprising in particular a non statutory integrated spatial planning
    and development framework focussing on the Derry-Letterkenny gateway and the four
    local Council areas of Derry, Strabane, Limavady and Donegal. ….

    (25) In particular, Project Kelvin will require a new direct link to the transatlantic
    submarine telecommunications networks. The cable will come ashore on the north
    coast of the island of Ireland. Both the Irish and the UK governments have agreed that
    Derry is the most suitable location for the direct link to terminate. The new direct link
    will also be able to interface with the existing Northern Ireland telecommunications
    infrastructure (BT, NTL, eircom and others) in Derry.” …. PDF file

    Neither Coleraine nor its council get a mention in this late 2008 EU report …

  • Anytout News

    Shocking sneakiness by Mairtin O’Millionaire, suggesting phone calls to head office to grass the DUP up.

    Is there something in the water at Teach Basil which makes their first instinct?

    Perhaps someone should raise the issue of religious balance at the Belfast Media Group’s workforce with Mairtin’s American investors.

  • Joksta

    Posted by The Raven on Feb 10, 2009 @ 10:05 PM

    ‘Are you saying that when businesses cluster around this link, that people from Derry won’t benefit…? Well I can only put it down to them not knowing the road past Eglinton.’

    Did the people of Derry benefit from the NUU being situated at Coleraine?…….Not a bit. I’d be surprised if unionists east of the Bann know there is a city past the Glenshane Pass! You’d think it was the Himalayas when it comes to channeling investment to the northwest.

    ‘Sorry if I sound like I am playing the man/city (stroke…geddit??), but when we talk about a global economy, and then bicker over 28 miles, it all gets a bit much.’

    Yet the OWC lot can sink the Maze stadium project, which would have created hundreds of jobs in tough economic times, because of the 9 miles they would have had to travel from Belfast to reach the arena! So the people of Derry should have to travel half way across Northern Ireland to access jobs that should have been based in their location? You honestly think thats reasonable? The fact is that Derry continues to be one of the most deprived areas in Ireland, whereas Coleraine is one of the most affluent. The city was the natural and preferred choice by all parties at the inception of Project Kelvin yet the location was ‘mysteriously’ changed in the tender by the DUP. Its obvious this was done for political purposes to once again prevent the ‘nasty fenian city’ from recieving much needed investment.

  • “Derry is the most suitable location for the direct link to terminate”

    Coleraine is closer to the undersea cable that runs into Southport than Derry so perhaps that was the reason for linking into the ring network at Coleraine rather than, say, Derry or Belfast.

  • willis

    A question like this really underlies the fact that we have not attracted enough expert opinion on to Slugger.

    Thing is. I first found out about Project Kelvin at a Digital Circle event which I found out about after talking to Davy Sims who I first met in our work (at that time)

    So….

    Can we please make Slugger more about moving forward together and less about why yousuns are holding usuns back?

  • Mick Fealty

    willis,

    I’m otherwise occupied this week, but I have been lurking on Slugger on and off. This one absolutely takes the biscuit (even Sammy’s surrealist Ministerial breach of his own party policy pales in comparison with this).

    I agree about getting more expert opinion on board. As for moving forward, well, that to a large extent comes down to our politicians.

    Kelvin is important to the digital industries as a potential generator/multiplier of wealth and creative opportunities. They understand that, and the Minister (not to mention the Irish government) seems to have more than an inkling of that too.

    Well, let’s just say that for some of our politicians the urge to play political football with anything even vaguely resembling such is just too strong; even when they play it this badly.

    What Coleraine will get that Derry won’t (and for reasons not entirely obvious to me has dominated the airwaves of Radio Foyle for a week) is something like this:

    http://atlantic-cable.com/CableCos/Porthcurno/SkewjackStation1_small.jpg

    It’s a big feckin’ shed; in this case a mile or so from Land’s End in Cornwall. I stayed within half a mile of it during the summer and could not get an internet connection for the week we were there. It is a regional/national resource, not a local one.

    The ‘mystery’ is what people thought the scandal was/is? And who cooked it up in the first place?

    Even if, as Nevin says, there was no mention of Coleraine originally, who doubts that given the extra mile or two of undersea cabling needed to take the fibre optic lines up the Foyle just to land it in a shed in the middle of the city would be much more cheaply dumped (in the midst of a global recession) on some lucky farmer’s half acre on the Co Derry coast.

  • Congratulations, Mick!!

    Don’t tell anyone but I understand the shed will be in Co Antrim, near Portrush 🙂

  • The Raven

    First, Jocksta. Catch a grip. “Travel halfway across the country”? Is that how 28 miles is measured by workers in Derry?

    And yes, harking back to the Coleraine University in the middle of the last century *is* pathetic. There were no complaints from people in Coleraine when Gem, Stream, FirstSource, Perfecseal, Seagate and many others went to poor, deprived, under-represented Derry.

    Not too many inward investors get as far as Coleraine, Limavady, or Ballycastle. Why? Because the things they are looking for include readily available human resource, and as Northern Ireland’s third city, you have it, they don’t.

    Also, I like the sweeping statement of about unionists in Coleraine – it really underlines how little you know about the area. There’s more to it than what you read in Council minutes.

    Unemployment in Coleraine Borough stands today at 4.6% of its working population. Things are none too affluent there if you talk to Spanboard, or other company employees. Next door in Limavady, it’s 5.6%, a mere 0.1% behind Derry’s.

    I’ll say it again – this is a global economy – and you are wittering about 28 miles. A few days commute in and out of London would do you now harm.

    Mick, you are indeed right. It’s a shed. But the regional internet power that the shed will help generate will act as a spur to more data centres, more IT-based companies, new start ups and internet businesses than ever before. It IS a regional gift – and we quibble over where it makes landfall.

    What we should be discussing is how we empower local entrepreneurs and locally-grown businesses to take advantage of this, rather than fly-by-night overseas investors. But no – Jockstrap and others prefer to find a conspiracy angle and blame them’uns.

    This has near enough been one of the most pathetic exchanges I have witnessed on Slugger, and it does indeed reflect on the parochial nature of this sheep infested rock we live on.

    I have access to a company presentation that was made locally about the resource and the opportunities it will bring. If anyone wants to be a little more informed about it, email me to my hotmail below, and I will forward it on.

  • willis

    Phew that’s a relief

    There is some intelligent life out there. I know how my heart leapt when Brian W came on board.

    I realise we are never going to be HuffPo, Imagine this post:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/neil-young/how-to-save-a-major-autom_b_143749.html

    Unfortunately I’m not sure how much Jimmy Nesbitt knows about Digital Infrastructure, but you get the picture.

  • Michael Robinson

    There isn’t a lot of clarity about the supposed economic benefits of this bit of glass coming ashore on the north coast.

    As Mick has pointed out, a number of existing transatlantic cables reach landfall on a beach in Cornwall. If you want to go back a hundred years, this same beach was where telegraph cable came ashore as well. This hasn’t delivered super-fast broadband and an information economy to Cornwall.

    Modern telecoms networks consist of the “backbone” transmission networks such as international and national fibre rings, local access networks to provide connections to homes and businesses, routers that switch the internet traffic between source and destination, and servers that contain the information being accessed.

    High speed local access networks are very expensive. DSL over copper lines is only good for a few km and if you want to run fibre, you can check out what BT charge on their website…. it won’t be cheap…

    Most internet traffic goes through peering facilities such as LINX (www.linx.net) where ISPs core routers are connected to each other. Internet traffic from the north coast would all need to go through peering centres like LINX anyway.

    I don’t know if anyone has been in a “Telehouse” before. They are basically big buildings, full of servers and routers, with very, very few people in them. Most things can be managed remotely – from anywhere in the world. It isn’t quite true yet. but it has been said they can be run by a man and a dog – the man is there to feed the dog and the dog is there to make sure the man doesn’t touch anything. One of the most important things is cheap power given the demands of all the equipment.

  • Pete Baker

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, willis..

  • willis

    Sorry Pete, What do I know? I am inclined to value humour over respect.

  • Battler

    Sorry Mick, your argument there doesn’t address any of the questions about how and why the decision to change the location of the Telehouse was made. Regardless of the utility of having the Telehouse in a particular area (and there has been a lot of comment that it is far more beneficial to cluster around a telehouse than locate further down the line – potential for cabling/connectivity issues, cost of that cabling etc – but as pointed out above we don’t have the knowledge here as yet to debate that on Slugger, more’s the pity). How did we get to the position that the location of the Telehouse as stated for over two years in all official documentation was moved, apparently at the last moment and apparently at the behest of the Minister. Was she ‘minded’ to approve the move for some reason, or by some individual?? Was this decision made alone? And on what justification?

  • Mick Fealty

    Battler,

    By all means push for answers to those questions. What about an FOI request into DETI?

    I won’t be, for several reasons.

    1) this is a feckin’ landfall hut; it will significantly power up broadband from Coleraine to Letterkenny, to Monaghan, Portadown and Belfast. There is no serious grounds for complaining about a switch that prima facae looks like uncommonly good financial sense.

    2) Anderson’s apparently false analogy with the Wexford case indicates this is little more than a rather carelessly manufactured urban myth. A manufacture that a party of Sinn Fein’s considerable government resources and seniority of Sinn Fein should know better than to engage in.

    3) Tying it to the Derry/Coleraine Uni question of the 60s is a blatant attempt at dog whistling / sectarian needling. It might have worked in the old pre-Agreement world (although it seems that the good folk of Derry were taken for a ride for a week on the power of this faux outrage) when Sinn Fein was a nomadic campaigning party rather than a party with executive responsibilities.

    4) I am much more interested in the answer to the question Martina was trying to duck when she threw this little (month old) distraction into the melee.

  • Michael Robinson

    it will significantly power up broadband from Coleraine to Letterkenny, to Monaghan, Portadown and Belfast.

    It really won’t… transatlantic fibre communication is completely different from local access networks such as broadband. Speed bottlenecks are in “the last mile” to business and residential premises – not in international communication.

    “Powering up” broadband to the areas referenced will required totally separate investment.

    I don’t know if the “telehouse” being referenced is a hut to terminate the fibre or a large hosting centre such as run by the company called Telehouse (www.telehouse.net)

    If the latter, the key factors for location are a large secure building, reliable and cheap power supply and multiple, redundant high speed connections. No major company would put critical data into a building with a single fibre connection to the outside world that could get knocked out by a farmer ploughing or a trawler’s anchor.

  • “27 September 2000 … $80-million cable landing station in Halifax … As well as phone and data lines, the system will also be able to move real-time video … The station itself sits on a 16-hectare campus-like setting … The network switching equipment found in the 2,300-square-metre station draws its electricity from a bank of batteries. They are constantly recharged from the provincial power grid … And should there be an interruption, the station has three diesel generators that can produce enough electricity to power a small town”

  • Mick Fealty

    Michael,

    I stand corrected.

  • Battler

    I still can’t help but think that there is a bigger picture here. If you look at who loses in the whole thing, and who stands to gain, then its all a bit more interesting? As MP for Foyle, its been Mark Durkan who has looked like he is out of the loop and took his eye off the ball with this. Martina then makes a whole song and dance about it ‘standing up for Derry’ god love her, and trying to pick up the pieces after the unfortunate MP. And if it means a bit of bridge-building with their Governmental partners in the DUP then where’s the harm…

  • Battler

    I’m not sure when the programme will be up on Listen Again but you can hear Durkan getting into a bit of a lather about all of this, falling out with his interviewer and sounding very much like a man who has been shafted by SF/DUP on this…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/radiofoyle/programmes/markpatterson/

    will start from about 15 mins on today’s programme when it goes up. And in the best Durkonian tradition it takes him a good 20mins to make his points…

  • Joksta

    Posted by The Raven on Feb 11, 2009 @ 11:02 PM

    ‘’Jockstrap and others’’

    Jokstrap…that’s hilarious. Must have taken you all night to think of that one. Your resorting to name calling only makes you look pathetic.

    It’s a basic rule in telecommunications that increased distance leads to additional bandwidth loads and significantly reduced connection speeds. Companies will also need to construct their own cables to access the network or pay to use another providers connection. So if a company wants to invest in Northern Ireland will they build 31 miles west in Derry paying additional fees for connection / cabling, accepting reduced speeds or build close to the facility through which transatlantic communication passes directly? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist but you may struggle with the concept Raven. Why if this telehouse is a glorified shed of no economic consequence, did the Irish and EU governments earmark it to be built in a disadvantaged area, describing its ability to attract investment as economically beneficial? Why did DETI promote it as an ‘Areas of Disadvantage’ Scheme?

    From the Coleraine Times:

    Derek Bullock, VP of Network Operations and Eric Gutshall, EVP of Sales and Marketing from Hibernia Atlantic, will be attending to present the benefits of the project for the area. “There are many benefits of direct, international connectivity for the Coleraine region.”

    From http://coleraine.thechronicle.uk.com/articles/news/3362/hi-tech-jobs-boost-on-horizon/:

    DUP Assemblyman Adrian McQuillan confirmed he’d lobbied the minister (Arlene Foster) on behalf of Coleraine. There is the prospect of jobs depending on where the cable is brought ashore.” Why lobby for the telehouse in Coleraine? Shouldn’t someone tell the councillor that its just an overgrown shed?

    ‘’There were no complaints from people in Coleraine when Gem, Stream, etc. went to poor, deprived, under-represented Derry.’’

    Thanks for helping my argument for investment in the city.
    Derry: Population 90,663 – unemployment rate 5.7%
    Coleraine: Population 24,042 – unemployment rate 4.6%
    The situation is that even with Gem, Stream and all the other companies you were whinging about, there are still thousands more out of work in Derry. The fact that the unemployment level is still higher illustrates just how little investment there was in the past.

    ‘’as Northern Ireland’s third city’’

    Derry is actually the second largest city in the province, with Bangor (town) and Lisburn (city) lagging far behind in population terms. The myth that Lisburn is second is more ‘east of the Bann’ delusion to try and reduce the importance of Derry further. However, Derry is the third most populous council area but don’t let the facts get in the way of your fiction!

  • “The consultants’ report suggested bringing it ashore at Ballygelagh between Portrush and Portstewart, running it up to the nearby railway line and from there onto a ‘telehouse’ and ‘data centre’ in Londonderry.”