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First WiMAX in Ireland


In 2002, the Irish government announced an objective to achieve widespread broadband penetration in Ireland. Irish Telecom was a new telecoms operator, having been granted a license to offer telecoms services in July of the same year. As such, it was determined to deploy an aggressive network rollout and customer acquisition strategy.

Choosing a Network Irish Broadband’s research clearly demonstrated that building a broadband wireless access (BWA) network would be the fastest, least expensive, and most flexible way to cover the underserved areas of Ireland and meet the rising demand for reliable broadband services in the country. With limited initial capital required and low network operating costs — proportional to customer base and capacity — Irish Broadband was attracted to BWA, since it would enable it to provide full broadband services, without needing an expensive fiber or satellite network or having to rely on the copper infrastructure of its competitor, the incumbent operator. Also, BWA would allow reaching areas not yet serviced by existing infrastructures and, once the network was established, to connect new customers within hours. BWA networks are easy to upgrade, grow and expand. As BWA base stations all share the same frequency spectrum, if a base station needs more capacity, additional bandwidth is simply allocated on the backhaul link.

Choosing a BWA Vendor
Convinced of the value of deploying a BWA network, Irish Broadband then had to look for a credible and reliable equipment vendor. As a market leader with installations in over 150 countries, Alvarion’s pedigree impressed Irish Broadband, as did the performance of its equipment in multiple trials and the staff expertise, making the decision to use Alvarion’s BreezeACCESS base stations and CPEs easy.

Irish Broadband’s Network
In May 2003, less than one year after getting its license, Irish Broadband began offering service using the license-free 2.4GHz frequency band in Dublin with Alvarion base stations in seven locations around the city. Irish Broadband’s network was a success from the start, with customers queuing up to get broadband connectivity at prices starting from €35 a month for home users and €45 per month for businesses.

Network Expansion within Months
Building on the successes of its initial deployments, in October 2003, Irish Broadband expanded its network again to utilize the recently released 5.8 GHz unlicensed spectrum to increase the number of subscribers and revenue. Again, Irish Broadband chose Alvarion for its network needs, selecting its BreezeACCESS VL system, developed specifically for the 5GHz spectrum. Chosen over solutions from Motorola, WLAN, and Airspan, the combination of BreezeACCESS VL’s outstanding features, outdoor performance, robustness, and competitive price was the determining factor. With a greater range, the 5.8GHz base stations can also be used to backhaul 2.4GHz base stations, enabling Irish Broadband to reach more customers. In addition, BreezeACCESS VL’s OFDM capability means that Irish Broadband can now reach customers in both urban and foliage-dense operating environments who are without direct line-of-sight to a base station.

Further Expansion using BreezeMAX
In May 2004, Irish Broadband again expanded its network to the city of Cork with the BreezeACCESS VL and used its new 3.5 GHz license for WiMAX services to build WiMAX networks using Alvarion’s BreezeMAX 3500 system in the cities of Dundalk, Drogheda, Galway, Limerick, and Waterford. During 2005 and 2006, Irish Broadband continued to expand its networks in both the licensed and unlicensed frequency bands and added the unlicensed band 5.4GHz. An average of 250 BreezeACCESS VL customer premises equipments (CPEs) were installed weekly during 2005. In addition, Irish Broadband expanded its WiMAX network to eleven other cities.

Surpassing Expectations
In January 2006, Irish Broadband surpassed 20,000 subscribers, beating its own expectations. In 2005, broadband subscriptions in Ireland increased by 19% overall, with fixed wireless broadband services growing faster, with a 37% quarterly growth. Given all its success with broadband wireless and WiMAX, Irish Broadband is now turning to new horizons. After a successful bid for a portion of an €18 million Broadband for Schools project, it is planning to expand its broadband wireless network services into schools. In addition, the company is considering the possibility of building wireless networks outside Ireland. IT

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The Challenge

The Solution

The Result

• To take advantage of the lrish government’s desire to achieve widespread broadband penetration.

• A broadband wireless access (BWA) network built using equipment from two Alvarion product suites: BreezeACCESS and BreezeMAX, its WiMAX platform.

• Provides fixed wireless data services with speeds ranging from 512Kbps up to 6Mbps to home users, SMEs, and large corporates.

• To develop a reliable broadband network for residential and business customers.

• Wireless broadband has enabled Irish Broadband to pursue an aggressive network rollout and customer acquisition.

• To build a network that eliminates the use of the existing ‘last mile’ network of the incumbent operator.

• Strategy focused on providing superior customer service across its full range of broadband products.

• To get service up and running as quickly as possible to connect customers and generate revenues immediately.

• The first operational WiMAX network in Ireland.


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