Magnet offers firms ‘one stop shop’ for broadband

Telecoms chief has put deals in place to let it provide nationwide connections, writes Fearghal O’Connor

Stephen Brewer, managing director of Magnet Networks at the company’s Clonshaugh offices. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Telecoms industry veteran Stephen Brewer believes his new plan for Magnet Networks can transform Ireland’s business broadband market.
The company has struck a series of deals with many of the country’s wholesale broadband suppliers and now – in combination with its own network – it is planning to provide “a one-stop shop” for all business options offered by every major network operator in Ireland.

The new service – a first in the market – promises to provide enterprise-class options to businesses who need quality connectivity, virtually everywhere in the country, according to Brewer.

“Businesses are desperate for a good network,” said Brewer. “We have our own network and we resell the networks of the other main providers such as Open Eir, Virgin, Enet. Now we can join all of that together to create something similar to what has done for insurance and what Carphone Warehouse has done for mobile phones.

“What we are saying is: come to us, we will find the best solution for you virtually anywhere in Ireland,” he said. “You don’t have to do the hard work, we’ll do it.”

The former Eircell and Vodafone boss arrived at Magnet last August to take over as managing director of its Irish business, freeing up CEO Mark Kellett to concentrate on growing its international business.
“I love Ireland,” said Brewer, who is originally from England. “I came back here three years ago and I can’t believe the number of technology startups and the young guys coming out of college with all of these bright, smart ideas.”

Brewer set about putting together deals to allow Magnet to provide business packages using the networks of other providers as well as the €120m network that it has previously built, largely on Dublin’s northside.

“Those providers have made massive investments in their own networks but they don’t cover the entire country and they don’t sell other networks to fill in the gaps. But by overlaying the different networks we can find the best routes. We are also able to look at bespoke systems such as wireless connections to get broadband to people,” he said.

Companies too often place a low value on the quality of their connectivity, said Brewer.

“Even in the last two years connective technology has moved on massively, but many internet-critical companies are still living on the offering that they signed up to five years ago,” he said. “If you lose connectivity, or even broadband quality, then you don’t just lose business days, you lose revenue and possibly customers.”

The company is also rolling out a new technical solution developed by a Limerick-based company to allow more remote businesses in areas with poor mobile coverage to utilise a 4G phone connection throughout their premises, he said.

Because it can utilise a range of different networks, Magnet’s new offering will be accessible “virtually anywhere”, said Brewer.

Despite this promise, Brewer, who previously served as an adviser to the National Broadband Plan, believes that the huge and expensive government-subsidised project is still going to be needed to provide similar access to good broadband coverage for Irish homes.

“The National Broadband Plan will come and is vital and, in fact, they may well need to use wireless in some places as part of that the same as everyone else has to. It’s a good initiative and when you get something that big and that costly it is going to take a bit of time.”

“What we are launching with Magnet complements what others have done,” he added.