Irish Broadband plans to rollout WiMax this year

2 Mar 2005

Irish Broadband, which is currently conducting WiMax trials with Intel in Leixlip, has told it is confident WiMax services will be deployed across all of its coverage areas later this year.

In recent weeks wireless player Irish Broadband, whose services are currently available in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford, Drogheda and Dundalk under seven existing licences, was awarded seven additional licenses to provide wireless broadband in Sligo, Navan, Celbridge, Wicklow, Bray, Tralee and Killarney. Waterford, Galway, Drogheda, Dundalk and Limerick with plans afoot to go live in weeks. Combined with existing infrastructure, Irish Broadband managing director Paul Doody claimed that the company is capable of reaching some 90pc of Ireland’s potential broadband marketplace.

The company also recently secured an €18m investment from National Toll Roads (NTR) and Kilsaran Concrete Products that will both invest in the company on a 50:50 basis. The investment will give Kilsaran a 28pc stake in Irish Broadband, an NTR subsidiary.
As well as this Irish Broadband emerged as one of the successful bidders for a portion of the Government’s €18m Broadband for Schools project.

In recent months it emerged that Irish Broadband is collaborating with Intel in Leixlip to engage in Ireland’s first WiMax trials. WiMax is a standards-based wireless technology that provides high-throughput broadband connections over long distances. WiMax can be used for a number of applications, including broadband internet connections, hotspot and cellular backhaul and high-speed enterprise connectivity for businesses. As part of the rollout, Intel and Irish Broadband are offering free high-speed wireless internet connectivity over WiMax technology for a three-year period, to eight primary and post-primary schools in Leixlip and the new Leixlip Library, which is currently under construction.

According to Doody,: ” This year we will be hoping to deploy WiMax services across all of our license areas. People want symmetric broadband services and all they are getting now is ADSL with high contention ratios, resulting in poor service levels.

“The real advantage of WiMax is that it is ubiquitous broadband; you are not tied to a connection on a wall. Mobile functionality is coming and we are looking closely at the features PC manufacturers will be including in forthcoming models later this year. WiMax will hit asymmetrical broadband providers very hard. The biggest dilemma facing telecoms firms is what to invest in going forward.

“With WiMax we are looking at a throughput of around 70Mbps, potentially eliminating the contention ratio issues that dog subscribers of DSL services,” Doody said.

Irish Broadband currently provides fixed wireless data services with speeds ranging from 512Kbps up to 6Mbps and its customer base includes home users, SMEs and large corporate players. The company’s service to business and home internet users includes high-speed always-on internet access (upstream as well as downstream) with unlimited connection to the internet from €30 per month for home users and €45 per month for business users.

Commenting on the current trial with Intel in Leixlip, Doody said: “We are still conducting the trial and any announcements we make on the progress will be with Intel. It is currently being used by local schools, suppliers and Intel employees, and we are finding that it is a higher-quality product that has finally cracked the non line-of-sight issue that has plagued wireless broadband providers for the past decade,” Doody said.

By John Kennedy