Ireland’s first WiMax grid to cover 50pc of country

10 Sep 2004

Wireless broadband provider Digiweb has revealed that it is constructing Ireland’s first WiMax-ready network with plans to cover 50pc of the country by early 2005.

The news follows Digiweb’s acceptance into industry body, the WiMax Forum, which includes leading wireless service providers and equipment manufacturers such as Intel, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Airspan, Aperto, Motorola, Alvarion and Siemens.

WiMax, which is capable of sending data over a range of 30 miles with data transfer speeds of up to 70Mbps, is currently among the new technologies being evaluated by the Forward Looking Programme of the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). The technology is being viewed as a potential solution to Ireland’s continuing broadband woes and as a mechanism for bypassing the country’s decaying PSTN network.

A joint global study by Bear, Stearns & Co International and The Management Consulting Group (TMNG) labeled Ireland, with high gross domestic product but low broadband penetration, as one of the markets with the most to gain for fixed and mobile network operators that deploy new wireless broadband standards such as WiMax and MobileFi to augment the rollout of DSL and 3G services.

“WiMax as an alternative technology will impact deployment strategies for 3G, DSL, cable modems as well as traditional backhaul solutions,” says Rich Nespola, CEO of TMNG. “Carriers must adjust strategies now and act quickly to influence the final standard. Technology providers must partner with licensed-spectrum carriers and plan a careful, measured introduction of products and services with maximum functionality.”

Earlier this year, Digiweb was awarded 16 licenses by ComReg in the 3.5GHz band to deploy broadband access around the country, more licenses awarded to any other single operator.

Hugh Logue, Digiweb’s wireless deployment manager, comments: “We’re building a WiMax-ready network across Ireland, which by early 2005 will service more than 50pc of the country. WiMax will enable us reach deeper into rural and under-served areas, while providing self-install options in towns and cities.”

With services already available in Dublin, Meath and Louth, Digiweb’s new services in Cork were turned live by Communications Minister Dermot Ahern TD last Monday. Servicing Cork City and surrounding areas, Digiweb plan to cover 85pc of Cork county by mid-November. Digiweb also plans to continue its rapid deployment of services throughout the country and is already progressing the network into the midlands and border regions, with most locations planned to be live and offering services by December.

By John Kennedy