Displaying items by tag: Ireland

Ireland telecommunications incumbent Eir has rejected the growing skepticism surrounding the security practices of Huawei by vowing to stick with the embattled Chinese vendor.

The mobile network operator confirmed that it plans to continue to use radio access equipment supplied by Huawei in the rollout of its 4G and 5G networks.

The company’s CEO Carolan Lennon made the remarks regarding Hauwei at the launch of a new €500m FTTH rollout that aims to reach 1.4m premises with a network capable of speeds of up to 10Gbps.

Many European operators have warned of the risk of excluding Huawei from their 5G projects. Vodafone CEO Nick Read said a blanket ban on the Chinese telecommunications behemoth would significantly impact the deployment of 5G networks in Europe.

A number of leading experts from within the ICT ecosystem believe Huawei are the victim of a politically motivated campaign by the US and are being used as a pawn in a trade war between Washington and Beijing.

Last November Eir revealed a €150m plan to deliver 4G connectivity to 99pc geographic coverage. The two-year project will transform the entire Eir cellular network, expanding it by hundreds of additional sites. Huawei will provide the radio access network equipment while Swedish telecoms equipment player Ericsson will deploy the core network linked by fibre.

The CEO of Eir also confirmed that the first Irish cities will also start to see 5G deployed this year, with handsets likely to be in stores by the second half of 2019. In addition to this, she also confirmed that voice over LTE (VoLTE) services will be rolled out.

When asked if Eir had any plans to follow in the footsteps of BT or Vodafone in curbing the use the Chinese company’s equipment, Lennon said Eir will continue to work with the company.

Lennon said: “In our RFP [request for proposal] for the network, Ericsson was successful on the core network bid and Huawei was successful for the radio access part. We are confident in Huawei as a partner and we have no plans to change. Around 48% of telco’s in Europe have Huawei as a partner.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Irish capital is Europe’s data hub

Written on Thursday, 24 January 2019 12:28

A new industrial revolution is underway in the heart of the Irish capital as clusters of warehouses housing vast quantities of data continue to emerge.

Dublin has really embraced technology in an effort to boost its flagging and shrinking economy following the global crash in 2008. Internet behemoths such as Facebook, Apple and Google all have their European HQ’s in Dublin and the city has become the continent’s No.1 data hub.

A familiar term within the ICT ecosystem is that ‘data is the new oil’ and will fuel the global economy. Those sentiments were echoed by Brian Roe, Commercial Director of Serve-Centric, which is a data center company.

Roe said, “Data is the new oil, definitely.  These powerhouse developments provide 24/7/365 access to the massive data, processing power and storage that digital services around Europe require. People are saying, ‘Well everything is going to come from the cloud’.  Well where's the cloud? The cloud is data centers."

Ireland’s industry lobby group Host has said the new phenomenon has become the unlikely engine room for everything from video streaming to phone apps and social media.    

In addition to this, progressive government incentives, a highly-skilled workforce and high connectivity to Europe and America are helping attract data center construction investment which is expected to reach nine billion euros ($10 billion) by 2021.

The sector employs 5,700 people in full-time equivalent roles including 1,800 as data center operators, according to a report produced for Ireland's investment agency. Many of Ireland’s brightest young talent were forced to emigrate after the recession, but many are no returning to avail of the exciting new opportunities presented by Dublin’s transformation into a tech hub.    

Data has become a hot topic in Europe following the introduction of GDPR. Enterprises have been forced to examine their data harvesting and storage practices in a more forensic manner. Consumers have also now been awakened to the dangers of providing their data online following the high-profile Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal which emerged last year. 

Amazon Web Services (AWS) -- which provides cloud services for hire -- is a particular concern for Paul O' Neill, a researcher based at Dublin City University. "The ethical implications of hosting AWS data centers in Ireland are potentially vast," he said.

AWS, which has announced plans to expand its Dublin operations, sells controversial facial recognition technology to US police.

"These corporations are or have been involved in many of the dominant controversies and debates of our contemporary networked era including privacy, data breaches and surveillance.”

Published in Infrastructure

US technology colossus Apple is reportedly renegading on a previous commitment that they made to the Irish government on the construction of $1 billion data center in rural Ireland. Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has publicly disclosed that Apple CEO Tim Cook will no longer commit to the ambitious project.

However, the Taoiseach stressed that Dublin would do everything necessary in order to keep the project alive and facilitate whatever Apple needs to see the data center constructed. Apple initially disclosed its intentions to erect the facility in a rural location in the West of Ireland in February 2015. Its decision to go to a rural location was to take advantage of green energy sources located nearby.

However, the project has been subject to lengthy delays due to a number of planning objections over the last two years, and now Apple is eyeing up other potential location for the construction of its new data center. Varadkar met Apple’s CEO, but admitted that Cook did not commit to the proceeding with the project.

The Taoiseach said, “We didn’t get a start date, or a definite commitment or anything like that, but I did stress to Apple that the government would do anything within our power to facilitate the resumption of the project.”

Ireland’s Prime Minister is currently touring the US meeting potential new investors. Ireland relies heavily on foreign multinational companies like Apple for the creation of one in every 10 jobs created across the economy and sees major investments such as data centers as a means of securing their presence in the country.

Apple declined to commit when pressed on whether they remained committed to the project. A similar Apple center which was announced at the same time in Denmark is set to begin operations later this year, whilst Apple also announced in July that it would build its second EU data center in the Nordic region.

The government has said it is considering amending its planning laws to include data centers as strategic infrastructure, thus allowing them to get through the planning process much more quickly. However, such legislation is expected to be met with opposition by those within parliament.

Ireland has a checkered history when it comes to planning permission and previous governments have been brought down due to shady financial agreements between developers and politicians. A change in legislation to facilitate Apple’s attempts to construct their data center is not likely to be well received by the general public still dismayed at the country’s refusal to accept an EU ruling that Apple owed the state €13 billion in unpaid taxes.

Published in Infrastructure

EU taking Ireland to court over Apple tax dispute

Written on Sunday, 15 October 2017 08:21

The European Commission is taking Ireland to the European Court of Justice for failing to recover from Apple illegal state aid worth up to €13 billion, as required by the Commission’s August 2016 decision. EU Member States have to recover illegal state aid within the deadline set by the Commission, which is usually four months.

The Commission concluded that Ireland’s tax benefits to Apple were illegal under EU state aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. As a matter of principle, EU state aid rules require that illegal state aid is recovered in order to remove the distortion of competition created by the aid.

“Ireland has to recover up to €13 billion in illegal state aid from Apple. However, more than one year after the Commission adopted this decision, Ireland has still not recovered the money, also not in part,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy. “We of course understand that recover in certain areas may be more complex than in others, and we are always ready to assist. But Member States must make sufficient progress to restore competition.”

The deadline for Ireland to implement the Commission's decision on Apple's tax treatment was 3 January 2017 in line with standard procedures, i.e. four months from the official notification of the Commission decision. Until the illegal aid is recovered, the company in question continues to benefit from an illegal advantage, according to the Commission, which is why recovery must happen as quickly as possible.

Today, more than one year after the Commission's decision, Ireland has still not recovered any of the illegal aid, the Commission claims. Furthermore, although Ireland has made progress on the calculation of the exact amount of the illegal aid granted to Apple, it is only planning to conclude this work by March 2018 at the earliest.

The Commission has therefore decided to refer Ireland to the Court of Justice for failure to implement the Commission decision, in accordance with Article 108(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). If a Member State does not comply with the judgment, the Commission may ask the Court to impose penalty payments.

Published in Government

France is leading a push to increase the taxation of tech giants in Europe, backed by Germany, Italy and Spain. The countries’ finance ministers said in a joint letter that they want multinational technology companies like Google and Amazon to be taxed based on their revenues in Europe, rather than only profits as now.

Other European nations have expressed their support for the tax change, Reuters reported, because of the low tax they receive under the current international rules. Some nations are missing out on their share because tech giants are often taxed on profits booked by subsidiaries in Ireland, a low-tax haven, even though the revenue generated came from other EU countries.

In the letter written by the four European finance ministers it says, “We should no longer accept that these companies do business in Europe while paying minimal amounts of tax to our treasuries.”

The letter, seen by Reuters, was sent to the European Union’s Estonian presidency with the bloc’s executive Commission in copy. It was written by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, Wolfgang Schaeuble of Germany, Pier-Carlo Padoan of Italy, and Luis de Guindos of Spain.

In the letter the ministers express the need to create an “equalization tax” on turnover that would bring taxation to the level of corporate tax in the country where the revenue was generated. The ministers said, “The amounts raised would aim to reflect some of what these companies should be paying in terms of corporate tax.”

The ministers will reportedly present their case to other EU counterparts at a meeting in Tallinn from Sept. 12-16. A discussion has been scheduled by the EU’s current Estonian presidency to consider the concept of “permanent establishment” with the goal of being able to tax companies on where they generate their revenue, not only where they have their tax residence.

France has faced setbacks trying to obtain payments for taxes on tech giants’ activities in the country, hence its move to put pressure on the EU to change tax rules. In July a French court ruled that Alphabet’s Google should pay 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in back taxes because it has no “permanent establishment” in France but ran its operations there from Ireland.

Published in Government

US government is set to intervene into the long-running saga between technology giants Apple, the EU and the Irish government. The EU ordered the iPhone maker to pay back €13 billion in taxes it claimed it owed Ireland.

However, in a bizarre turn of the events the Irish government rejected the EU’s ruling that it was owed €13 billion in back taxes and said that Apple hadn’t breached any tax laws in Ireland. The EU insisted that Apple had secured favorable tax incentives from the Irish government which amounted to illegal subsidies and issued the record tax demand against the US tech leaders.

Apple decided to take its case to Luxembourg-based General Court, which is Europe’s second highest in December in light of the ruling by the EU. The decision by the EU was heavily criticized by the Obama administration which alleged that the EU was attempting to help itself to cash that should have ended up in the US.

The Trump administration has subsequently proposed a tax break on $2.6 trillion in corporate profits being held offshore as part of its own tax reform, although it has not stated anything in public in relation to Apple’s tax row with the EU.

A source close to the case that who wishes to remain anonymous confirmed that the US had filed an application with the EU in relation to the long-running saga between Apple and EU decision-makers. The source said, “I can confirm the United States filed an application with the European Union General Court to intervene in the case involving the retroactive application of state aid rules to Apple.”

It has also been reported that The General Court will deal with the case in late 2018, although that has not been officially confirmed. Apple firmly believes that it is a convenient target for the EU and that EU competition enforcer used an ‘absurd theory in coming with the punitive figure. Other companies currently embroiled with the EU in relation to tax issues in Luxembourg are Amazon and McDonalds.

Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Starbucks, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and several other companies that were also ordered to pay back taxes to other EU countries have similarly challenged their EU rulings.

Published in Government

Ireland-France Subsea Cable Limited (“IFSC”) announced a partnership with Tiger Infrastructure Partners (“Tiger Infrastructure”) to finance and construct IFC-1, a submarine fiber-optic cable system that will be the first and only direct subsea cable between Ireland and France.  The transaction is expected to close following customary regulatory approval and other conditions precedent.  Further financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The IFC-1 system will be a state-of-the-art subsea cable and provide ultra-high capacity transmission to telecommunication carriers, Internet companies and large enterprises in Ireland looking for connectivity to continental Europe. 

“The massive growth of Ireland’s data center industry and the requirement for resilient telecommunications infrastructure has created the need for a new, direct route to continental Europe,” said Michael Cunningham, Chairman of IFSC.  “We are delighted that Tiger Infrastructure shares our vision and look forward to having them as our partner.”

IFSC was founded in Cork, Ireland in early 2015 as a single purpose entity to develop a submarine fiber-optic cable system between Ireland and France.  IFSC was created by veteran telecom entrepreneurs Michael Cunningham and Douglas Cunningham.  The team has decades of experience in the telecom and finance industries and has previously developed other submarine cable systems, such as Arctic Fibre and Antilles Crossing, and other large-scale telecommunications infrastructure projects.

“We are pleased to be working with IFSC and its experienced leadership team to develop and build this strategic cable between Ireland and France,” said Emil Henry, CEO and Managing Partner of Tiger Infrastructure Partners.

The subsea cable has been designed to extend terrestrially into Dublin, Ireland and Paris, France providing PoP-to-PoP connectivity and enabling long digital line segments. The system is scheduled to be ready for service in late 2018.

Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. acted as the exclusive financial advisor to IFSC in connection with this transaction. Tiger Infrastructure is an independent middle-market private equity firm that invests in growing infrastructure platforms. Tiger Infrastructure targets investments in the communications, energy, transportation, and related sectors in North America and Europe.  Tiger Management L.L.C. and members of the Ziff family are significant investors in Tiger Infrastructure.

Published in Infrastructure

The Irish Government have presented its argument that Apple does not owe 13 billion in back-taxes to Dublin, and claimed that the EU breached state sovereignty in relation to its interference in this issue. In August, the EU ruled that tech giants Apple should pay billions in back-taxes to Dublin because Ireland had granted Apple undue tax benefits.

Ireland’s Department of Finance, presented a three-page submission in which it outlined its arguments. The submission read, “The Commission has exceeded its powers and interfered with national tax sovereignty. The Commission has no competence, under State aid rules, unilaterally to substitute its own view of the geographic scope and extent of the Member State's tax jurisdiction for those of the Member State itself.”

The EU commission said the Irish Government allowed Apple to pay a tax rate of 1% of its European profits in 2003, which subsequently dropped to 0.005% by 2014. Following its calculations the commission then ordered the US tech company to repay 13.5 billion euros to Ireland in back-taxes.

Ireland immediately said it would appeal the ruling, which was formally lodged in November.

The Department of Finance's release provided further detail of Dublin's line of argument, claiming the Commission "has misapplied State Aid law" and is wrong in claiming Apple was granted an advantage. "The Commission attempts to re-write the Irish corporation tax rules." 

Dublin additionally claimed procedural errors in the Commission's investigation, which was launched in 2014, arguing Ireland was not contacted to comment on findings contained in the ruling.  "The Commission breached the duty of good administration by failing to act impartially and in accordance with its duty of care," said the submission.

Apple is a valued employer in Ireland, with 6,000 staff in its Cork city campus. Although claiming the tax windfall would boost state coffers, Dublin fears it would ultimately damage the economy by making Ireland less attractive to foreign investors. The case has divided opinion in Ireland with the general public appalled at the decision by the government to refuse the tax windfall which would go a long way towards improving services and infrastructure in a country which is still recovering from the 2008 global recession. However, high-profile business people like Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has backed the Irish Government, and said the EU should stay out of Irish tax affairs.

Published in Finance

Head of Technology at IDA, (Industrial Development Authority) Leo Clancy, has boldly claimed that Ireland’s IoT position is the envy of the world. He feels Ireland is perfectly placed as global industries continue to invest significantly in IoT.

Three words that prominently feature as a recurring theme during his interview with Silicon Republic are ‘Collect, Connect and Transform’.

According to Clancy, these words define Ireland’s base targets for creating an environment for the impending IoT revolution which is being implemented across various enterprises and regions all over the world.

Clancy said: “A colleague of mine summed it up brilliantly when he was asked to explain Ireland’s role in the area of IoT, he said we think Ireland is a great place for all the different layers of IoT.”

Fundamentally, that is devices to collect data, networks that communicate the data back to central points, and analytics that look at the data can all be created, trialled and ultimately commercialized in Ireland.

“The way we summarize doing these things is through a process of Collect, Connect and Transform – so I do think we are a great place for all the different layers poised by IoT.”

Sea, land, cities and sky – ensure Ireland has an abundance of resources, brains and infrastructure that make it the natural home for researching and investing in the internet of things.

The global value of the IoT sector is predicted to exceed €34bn a year by 2020, with an expectation that 4.9bn devices will be connected in 2015, rising to 25bn by 2025.

The creation of fifty new R&D jobs in Dublin from IoT business PTC sparked interest and intrigue from the Irish public who were unaware of what IoT was – and were keen to find out more about this growing industry.

Ireland is only starting to emerge from a bleak economic depression following the recession in 2008 – which resulted in thousands of job losses, the repossession of homes and the mass emigration of its skilled young population.

Brexit has cast fresh fears for the future of the economy yet again, although US, British and Swiss investment banks are rumoured to view Ireland as the perfect platform for them to continue to access the EU after the UK leaves the bloc.

However, there is a real sense of belief Ireland could benefit greatly from this IoT digital revolution.

Through evolution, design and policy – as well as an abundance of raw talent – IoT portends the dawn of a new industrial revolution, and Ireland will be at its heart.

In addition to that we have an abundance of research centres, smart city projects and natural geographical benefits which are potential tools with which the country could thrive.

However, one of the key reasons behind the belief Ireland can be a haven for all things IoT are due to that fact it has a plethora of key companies based in the country.

Clancy, namechecking one company in particular, agreed.

He added: “Movidius is a great Irish company, a brilliant success story,” he said. IoT, AI and computer vision are three trends the IDA is constantly seeing as it canvasses the industrial environment.

Every company has one or more of these topics in mind. Movidius, though, has all three. “It has an IoT device,” said Clancy, “advanced computer vision and strong AI capabilities.”

“Movidius is not an overnight success. They came out of previous ecosystems, they’re very supported by the likes of Tyndall; creating that environment probably goes back 35 years… to the creation of Tyndall.”

Positioning yourself to benefit is one thing, but benefiting is quite something else. Should Clancy’s views stand the test of time, Ireland could soon achieve the latter.

Published in Internet of Things

Last week the European Commission ordered Ireland to reclaim 13 billion euros plus interest in back taxes from Apple, claiming the Californian tech giant’s ‘sweetheart’ tax arrangement with Ireland is illegal. In response, Irish ministers confirmed on Friday, September 2, that they will appeal against the European Commission’s ruling.

Ireland’s decision to appeal the ruling reportedly split, with independent ministers saying they were reluctant to challenge the Commission’s decision. Apple on the other hand has strongly opposed the Commission’s ruling and says it will also appeal against the ruling.

The European Commission’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager said that an investigation over two years into Apple’s tax deal with Ireland found Apple guilty of receiving illegal state aid from Ireland. The country is said to have allowed Apple to pay an effective corporate tax rate of 1 percent on its European profits in 2003, and down to as low as 0.005 percent in some years.

Ireland has denied any wrongdoing in its tax dealings with Apple. The country’s finance minister, Michael Noonan, announced that Ireland must appeal the European Commission’s decision, immediately after Vestager made the EC’s ruling public. Independents in Ireland resisted, and therefore the cabinet failed to reach agreement at first.

A decision was finally made on that Friday, that Ireland will appeal against the EC’s ruling that Ireland had supplied illegal state aid worth 13 billion euros to Apple. But following the EC’s ruling, Ireland will be launching an independent review of the tax treatment of multinationals, Ars Technica reported. The Dail, which is the lower house of the Irish parliament, is said to be meeting to approve the plan.

“Our appeal will be founded on advice and documentation of the attorney general,” said Noonan. He claimed “no preferential treatment” had been given out to Apple regarding its corporate taxes in Ireland. “Apple constructed its company to use the tax regime,” he said. “Any company could have done the same. This is an intrusion beyond the competence of the Commission.”

He also noted that there is “envy across Europe about how we’ve managed to establish so many HQs in Dublin. We stand by our 12.5 percent tax rate.”

“The nature of the ruling was unprecedented in terms of the consequences for the Irish economy,” said Paschal Donohue, Irish minister for public expenditure. “This ruling has seismic and entirely negative consequences for job creation in the future. We need to maintain the jobs we have and develop jobs for the future. This is a clear intention to emphasize the certainty of the tax code. This government stands fully behind our tax regime. We reviewed how important this policy is.”

Published in Government
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