Ireland Brothers – The Big Idea

If you have 20 minutes check this out. 

I deal with content. I'm not a techie, often I wish I was, but there you are.  All my career I have relied on better brains to deliver my ideas.  They have never let me down. I have mad ideas and brilliant, inspired people deliver them for me.

There are some who think that this big idea is not achievable. But there you are.  Having made the video and (like a good journalist should) checked with two (actually three) independent  sources who are techie as they come I'm satisfied that what is said here is realisable. Here's the BIG PICTURE.  We have to think BIG. We can think BIG and we do best when we think BIG.  The planet is our canvas; let's use it. 


Producer - Broadcaster - Podcaster - Writer - exBBC Editor - exTEDx Organiser. Author "Podcasting for Journalism Students", "Podcasting for Community Organisations" and "Firsthand Guide to Bled Slovenia" - all available on Amazon.


  1. Davy, I’m going to stake the claim as being one of, if not the first proponents of the potential value that Project Kelvin can bring to Northern Ireland – and I’ve never been accused of thinking small. But I can see how this video (which I just watched twice) has confused folks. So with that positioning, let me throw some things on here for discussion. If the technology element of the big idea is that Northern Ireland can be a hub for datacenters running software services on a rental basis – that’s the other way to describe cloud computing, then that’s a fabulous goal – and I’m in full favor of going for it. But the big problem is that Project Kelvin – by itself – needs additional value to make that a real value proposition, Not that it can’t be done, but that without acknowledging that, it’ll be very hard to sell.Here’s some of the, at times, contradictory and confusing claims in the video.“… the best connected location in Western Europe …” What exactly does that mean? 99.99% of all existing Internet connections in the world already can get to the other 99.99% of the Internet. Does it mean that there is an Internet connection available to everyone, all the time? That’s actually irrelevant to datacenter/cloud computing facilities. All they need is 2 or 3 big, isolated pipes.“… probably the most advanced location available …” Speed? I’m posting this on 20Mbps in Palm Springs and my loft in San Francisco has 100Mbps – for $45/month. That’s advanced. But its consumer stuff, and it’s peanuts to the throughput of the pipes needed by datacenters/cloud computing facilities.… 70ms to all regions in the US …” “ … service all the planet in real-time” Yes and No. You can get a packet from Belfast, through Nova Scotia, to Boston or Chicago in ~70ms. But then peering arrangements mean that it’ll get routed to its destination over other networks. Kelvin’s connectivity can only take it to the closest exchange point, and then some other network will forward it onward to a POP. The biggest, fastest pipe on the planet can only shift packets at the speed of the slowest link in the path (a simplification).I’m 100% in favor of thinking big! But someone needs to understand the strengths and weaknesses of Kelvin, and create a strategic position that compensates or enhances it to achieve this big idea. Again, not that it can’t be done, but there needs to be some serious heads down planning that is over and above what Kelvin provides. And soon, Google Fiber for Communities just raised the bar to 1Gbps to the home – image that backhaul!

  2. Thanks David. As I said in the posting I’m not technical, I’m content. However, I’m also a journalist and look to others for information and supporting arguments. So, I can’t answer your question – but I know some people (not in the video) who can. So I beg your patience – I can’t answer you today – or tomorrow come to that. But I will try to get you an answer.And again – just to emphasise – I’m a content person. That’s what interests me – I’ve no interest in data centres. Not even sure what they are. As I said to the Minister for Culture Arts and Leisure holding up a wine glass "This is a glass, it looks good but it’s no use until it has something in it. Kelvin is a big piece of glass and it’s no good until there is something in it."So, your patience, please and I will try to get you an answer (not necessarily one I will understand).

  3. Hi Davy – I’d be interested in those reasons because at the moment we have a lot of people being asked to publicly endorse several private endeavours without understanding what the subject matter is. I’m not just a content person – I’m a technical person and a business person. From a technical perspective, I’d like to understand how the Ireland Bros can say:"the best connected location in Western Europe"when Hibernia Atlantic (the owners of the cable) have shied away from any such discussion. I’m wary of Northern Ireland appearing like yokels because someone gave us a piece of glass and we think we own the Internet. Underpromise and Overdeliver was always the mantra I lived by in business. I’d like to understand how "The Big Idea" does something similar because currently it’s promising everything but world peace and the emancipation of chimpanzees. How will it deliver such expectations and what damage will it do if it doesn’t deliver?

  4. Davy, A suggestion before we descend into discussions on BGP/IGP and transit verses peering – sorry mate, just baiting :)Unfortunately the idea here is VERY technical – cloud computing facilities really are just datacenters, and Kelvin is just the pipe into them. My issue here is NOT that this can’t be done (I honestly don’t know, but its very much worth trying even if it fails) and I’d jump in with both hands, sleeves rolled up to define and develop a REAL value proposition, but … I’m concerned that the "value proposition" that is being presented HERE, isn’t going to cut it – and worse, will remove credibility for NI if it ever wants to charge up this hill again.So, another suggestion. If the big idea is datacenters / cloud computing facilities there are a number of REALLY smart folks in NI – not big names, but folks that are seriously heads down and doing stuff that IS mind blowing. On a small scale these are folks I’d pit against any of the dc guys in Mountain View. Ask them, involve them. If this has a chance of working, it’ll be through folks that REALLY know this at the real and virtual level.You you like me to pull together a team?

  5. Guys, after having watched the video I felt compelled to ad a few comments. Now let me start by saying that my knowledge of "Kelvin" & "The Ireland Brothers" only goes a little bit further than what is discussed in the video. So forgive me if I make wrong assumptions and please point them out to me.- The first thing that I notice is that all this sounds very much like the ICSC (International Content Services Centre) as presented by Minister Eamon Ryan in Dublin last July. The whole concept of the ICSC is that super-mega-fast broadband and big whoopeedoo datacenters will create lots of jobs and save the economy. Let me quote from the ministers press release: "The ICSC will provide content generation, distribution and management expertise. The facility will support the development of the 1,000 digital content companies currently located in Ireland." He goes on to say that "up to 10,000 jobs by 2020 directly as a result of the ICSC". Why do we need two of these on one island with a total of less than 6 million people? Especially if they will both be on the east coast and within driving distance of each other.- I also have my doubts about this "build it and they will come" approach. The video is strong on the "what" but has very little "how". Should we not teach people on how to start, run and grow a successful company? Do we not need mentoring, training and educating more than big expensive infrastructure projects? Is there not a more urgent need for seed funding small (sub 50k) amounts into early stage start-ups? In comparison I have 4 words for you; Ennis Information Age Town. Google it. Several million were spent on providing "top class" broadband & IT facilities to the town of Ennis, Co. Clare. All the money was spent and it had zero impact on the local economy. At the same time there were a dozen or so "geeks" living in the countryside around Ennis who needed broadband to help them carry out their work (web design, programming, IT support etc.). They did not wait for a big all-encompassing broadband infra-structure to be built. Instead they used off-the-shelf hardware (wifi) to create point-2-point links across the country side so they could share a few bundled DSL lines in the nearest city. The moral of this story? If you have the people and fertile environment that will attract and create business than the infra-structure will be built, not the other way around.Just my two cent….

  6. Big Dreams,Small Steps There is validity in everyone’s comments,we just need to better meld promotion/roll-out to deliver the Big Idea! Think of the 16 years we have been implementing Albert Reynold’s big idea! I believe in the vision and in the ability to deliver Ireland Bros. 80% of the audience are not numerate and are unlikely to understand any of the technicalities. Having spoken to a wide and varied range of people in the US last week there is an appetite for meaningful business/collaboration across the Atlantic. Ireland Bros.will be the most connected location in Western Europe because of our mindset as much as to the availability of Broadband etc. Hi-touch as well as Hi-tech.As with parachutes, minds work best when they are open-I’m listening intently for constructive comments!Let’s do it!

  7. Hi Raymond, I think we may be talking at cross purposes here. Of course "there is an appetite for meaningful business/collaboration across the Atlantic". The issue is not "do people want this" — I’m sure investors with Bernie Madoff WANTED 20% returns, risk free — the issue is "can Kelvin deliver on the claims of the Big Idea" – specifically the technical claims that are being promoted in this video.As previously noted:"The most connected location in Western Europe" — can someone please expand on this?And if "80% of the audience are not numerate" then I submit that suggesting that its takes "~70ms to get from Belfast to Chicago" is taking advantage of that innumeracy. And in fact, *end-to-end* it will *always* take a more – exactly how much is non-deterministic.A constructive comment would be "if it can’t be explained, its not understood" … and, if/when its understood and believed then you’ll have hordes of supports, and I’ll carry a flag for it anywhere.

  8. Davy, there is a ton of discussion on this going on behind the scenes – the usual NI way.As a journalist, how about you hold an open town hall meeting to really understand this, and provide avenue for questions to be ask and answers to be given?And a Skype call-in number for folks that can’t be there in person?And schedule after 4pm for folks that are in the GMT-8 time zone?/d

  9. When I’m watching that video all I see is 3 business men who are passionate about the ecominic changes it could make to Northern Ireland, but I see a lack of innovative technical understanding which is something which is absolutely crucial.Just because project kelvin brings connectivity to Northern Ireland, it doesn’t make Northern Ireland any more special than any other region in Europe. The republic of ireland has more connectivity to the mainland and the united states, and parts of Europe have dramatically more connectivity than project Kelvin will bring to us.How that connectivity is used will be the deciding factor on it’s value. I didn’t find any part of the topic innovative, there are no specific ideas that will make Northern Ireland stand out from the Republic for example which has already adopted cloud computing over the last couple of years.I’ll send them my CV now :p

  10. In all honesty if this is going forward, there needs to be a clear separation between the ‘investors’ and the ‘innovation’. There are so many intelligent people in Northern Ireland that if given the chance and the trust, could make significant use of this technology.As cimota said, the statements ‘"the best connected location in Western Europe"’ show a severe lack of understanding. At the end of the day if they went on National television to give an interview and brought that up, even I’d feel embarassed for Northern Ireland.The right type of people still aren’t in this.

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