Monday 23 September 2019

Imagine says it's connecting rural Ireland to 5G broadband


Stock photo
Stock photo

Shawn Pogatchnik

WIRELESS broadband company Imagine Communications says it's already connecting rural customers to its 5G network who have been waiting for years for the National Broadband Plan to arrive.

Imagine chief executive Sean Bolger said his Sandyford-based company had completed the first phase of its plan to build 5G masts and transmit 3.6GHz-spectrum signals capable of reaching 1.2m households across Ireland. He said Imagine was on target to achieve that goal by June 2020.

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For now, Imagine says its engineers have erected 155 towers that already are providing services to more than 10,000 subscribing customers located in all 26 counties, from Donegal to Kerry and including the Aran Islands.

A further 50,000 households have registered interest online in gaining connections.

Imagine says it will accelerate contact with those potential customers and others visiting their website, where users can input their Eircode to discover whether Imagine's wireless signal is beaming into their community.

"When we announced our plans, we were conscious that people in regional Ireland wanted to see delivery," said Mr Bolger.

"At Imagine we wanted our actions to speak for themselves. We said we would invest, build networks and deliver services to homes and businesses across Ireland and that is what we have done," added Mr Bolger, whose company is backed by a €120m investment from its majority shareholder, the Canadian firm Brookfield Asset Management.

Imagine said existing towers were generating wireless internet connections at speeds of up to 150 Mbps and reaching 31,000 townlands containing more than 800,000 homes and businesses. Of those, it said, some 234,000 were in "amber" locations currently unserved by any other broadband provider.

Imagine said the second phase, due for completion by mid-2020, would mean a total of 320 towers producing signals able to reach 1.2m premises.

Customers will be charged €150 for connection and installation of the rooftop antenna necessary to connect to their local towers.

After that they would be billed €60 a month for a bundled broadband and phone package that includes free local, national and UK landline connections and 60 minutes of calls to Irish mobiles.

Mr Bolger said Imagine was already providing broadband to isolated communities that otherwise faced a five to seven-year wait for the National Broadband Plan to arrive.

"While the conversation and focus to date has been about fixed broadband, what is equally important for rural communities and businesses is that this is an investment in 5G infrastructure," he said.

Me Bolger said 5G "is essential for the development of a digital economy and which will enable and support further investment and deployment of 5G services".

Irish Independent

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