Huawei and Imagine to rollout fixed wireless access broadband across Ireland
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:
The new service will bring 200mbps plus broadband to rural areas where fibre to the home is not commercially viable

Huawei and Imagine Communications Group have formed a strategic partnership to rollout a national wireless-to-the-x (WTTx) network in Ireland

Imagine will use Huawei’s WTTx solution, which uses the latest 4.5G technologies (such as massive MIMO and Massive carrier aggregation) for a fixed access network, to deliver 200Mbps plus connectivity across the country, removing the “digital divide” between urban and rural areas. It will begin network rollout in October and is seeking to cover 85 per cent of the market by 2019, save for limited urban areas where high-speed broadband over cable is available. This will be underpinned by the recent 3.6 GHz spectrum release – Imagine obtained the right to use 60MHz in this band in each of the rural regions at a cost of €10 million under a 15-year licence.

In a limited commercial trial of the Imagine LTE fixed wireless access network in selected rural areas with a 70Mbps service, in less than a year, Imagine has already connected 16,000 customers, with more than 100,000 customers applying for the service.

According to the two companies, Ireland is a country with a huge contrast between urban and rural areas in term of network infrastructure. While in urban areas cable availability provides an alternative to the limited fibre-to-the-x (FTTx) experience, it rarely meets the advertised headline speeds of up to 100Mbps, and cannot meet the demand for higher speed 100Mbps plus services. For 61 per cent of the market in regional and rural areas, x digital subscriber line (xDSL) services are as slow as 3 Mbps.

Ireland initiated a national broadband plan in 2012 to make 30Mbps broadband services available to every home by 2020. With fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) as the only alternative until now, the challenges and high cost of the deployment of the planned rollout of FTTP services by commercial operators have yet to materialise, with only 12,000 premises connected.

Mao Dun, vice president of Huawei’s wireless marketing and solution sales division, said, “Huawei’s WTTx solution has the capability of providing internet access to everybody everywhere. Working with Imagine in commercial environment, we have optimised our WTTx solution deployed as a purely fixed network alternative to FTTx. Removing the barriers faced by FTTx deployments to meet the need and demand for Superfast Broadband, Ireland is an ideal market to demonstrate the ability of the latest WTTx solutions. We look forward to continuing our strategic partnership with imagine and delivering the best in industry solution.”

Sean Bolger, founder and executive chairman of Imagine, commented, “Working closely with Huawei we have achieved our vision of an alternative to FTTP infrastructure which can meet the demand for Superfast Broadband services today and into the future. As an Irish company, we are delighted that Ireland will be one of the first countries in the world to benefit from this game changing innovation in fast broadband infrastructure.”

“The Imagine network will overcome the significant challenges that have impeded the delivery of future proofed high-speed broadband services across Ireland and meet the government objective of a truly connected society, positioning both rural and urban Ireland to fully capitalise on the digital economy. In a global digital era, the availability of high speed broadband can ensure not just the sustainability but the development of a vibrant rural Ireland both socially and economically,” Bolger continued.

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