Cellnex is looking to connect 200 Irish mobile blackspots

27 Jun 2022

Cellnex Ireland managing director Colin Cunningham. Image: Cellnex

Cellnex said a €10m subsidy would help to bring mobile coverage to rural locations that can’t be addressed in a ‘commercially viable manner’.

More than 200 locations in rural Ireland could have mobile connectivity blackspots fixed through a community-led scheme, according to Cellnex.

Cellnex, a Spanish telecom giant with operations in the Irish market, said it has invested more than €500,000 in its Get Connected initiative since it launched last year. This scheme has received multiple submissions from community groups to date, covering 37 different coverage blackspot locations.

Cellnex has recently worked with local communities in Laois to install new infrastructure in Ballyfin, Castletown and Vicarstown, bringing “world-class mobile communications” to areas with poor mobile coverage.

Collaboring with local suppliers in the midlands, the telecoms firm said it fixed the coverage blackspots by using a series of unobtrusive poles and street cabinets. These are designed to be able to carry services from several mobile companies, in order to number the number of masts and the deployment costs.

Cellnex Ireland managing director Colin Cunningham said the company estimates there are more than 200 blackspot locations in “commercially challenging areas that need to be resolved”.

“These pilot schemes show that we have the ability now to fix existing mobile communications blackspots in these rural communities,” Cunningham said.

“However, given the low population densities, the roll-out of these proof-of-concept schemes underscores the fact that without some form of financial support, it will unfortunately not be viable for the industry alone to fix all of these blackspots and deliver the required connectivity to communities.”

Cellnex said that a €10m subsidy would go a long way to delivering infrastructure that can be shared by all mobile providers. The company added that this is needed to bring mobile coverage to blackspot locations that can’t be addressed in a “commercially viable manner”.

“Connectivity is absolutely vital to local rural economies, and we are delighted to have been able to work with the Get Connected programme and Cellnex to revolutionise the experience in these three villages and their hinterlands,” said Laois County Council director of services Angela McEvoy.

“This type of investment will allow local rural communities to thrive and will significantly benefit the quality of life for residents, as they won’t necessarily have to commute to large urban centres, given the availability of high-quality mobile connectivity locally,” McEvoy added.

Earlier this year, a small rural community in Ireland with limited access to good network connectivity came together to set up its very own fibre-to-the-premises broadband network from scratch.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic