The accelerated rollout of Imagine's 5G wireless broadband will provide countless customers in rural Ireland with a broadband connection after years of little to no connectivity.
Customers in rural Ireland have been chronically underserved when it comes to the provision of a basic broadband connection for quite some time.
The rollout of the National Broadband Plan has however been a giant leap forward in helping to get rural customers connected. But the NBP is still in its infancy and there are still many customers who are waiting for what's now widely considered a basic essential service.
However, those living in rural and regional areas will be glad to know that telecommunications operator Imagine has announced plans to accelerate the rollout of its 5G wireless broadband service to rural customers nationwide.
However, before we get into the details, here's a quick reminder of who Imagine is!
Who is Imagine?
Imagine Communications is an Irish-owned telecommunications company that provides high-speed, wireless broadband to customers in rural towns and villages across the country.
The telecoms provider focuses on bringing broadband services to underserved rural areas that aren’t covered by high-speed providers.
Imagine is widely recognised as an innovator in its use of WTTx, LTE and 5G broadband as an alternative to fixed-line broadband.
What are the plans exactly?
In recent days Imagine has announced plans to speed up the rollout of its 5G wireless broadband network to rural customers across the country. In particular it's focussing on around 350,000 premises identified under the National Broadband Plan as having a substandard broadband connection,
It says the increased investment in network infrastructure is in response to the increased demand for improved broadband services as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
The accelerated rollout of its 5G network means that 1.1 million homes and businesses in regional and rural areas will now have access to its 150Mbps broadband by the end of June.
How does the network operate?
Imagine’s existing fibre network consists of 268 mast locations spread across all 26 counties in the Republic of Ireland.
Differing from a fixed-line connection, any home or business that’s within 15-20km of a mast can sign up to its network through a secure wireless connection.
It works by a cell tower or mast sending a wireless signal, which is picked up by a fixed wireless antenna at your home. This signal is then essentially sent to your modem or router where it becomes the WiFi you use to surf the web.
Why is this good news?
Imagine's continuing improvement and expansion of its network will mean that more and more customers in rural areas will have access to better, faster, and more consistent broadband speeds.
Not only this, the news means that those living in areas cut off in more rural and secluded areas who may not have access to a desirable connection will finally have a broadband option.
Additionally, Imagine also said that it’s working on the development of 60 mast locations which will further help to provide increased capacity in existing coverage areas, but which will also help to extend coverage to new homes and premises.
That being said, 5G wireless broadband may not be for everyone. If you’re currently assessing your options, take a look at the pros and cons of 5G below to help you make up your mind.
Connectivity options - For many customers in rural Ireland, broadband options may be severely limited. The news from Imagine gives customers an option for a reliable broadband connection.
Good speed - Imagine’s 5G wireless broadband will provide customers in rural areas with a speed of up to 150Mbps. While this isn’t incredibly fast by today’s standards, it’s more than enough for streaming, gaming, video calling, and downloading most content.
Lower latency - Wireless broadband customers will generally experience less 'latency' or buffering than satellite broadband. This will of course depend on the location of mast infrastructure relative to your home as well as a number of other factors.
Obstructions to connectivity - 5G wireless uses a higher frequency to operate which means its signals travel shorter distances. It is also impacted by physical obstructions such as buildings, trees, and even weather, for example, which can have an adverse impact on consistent signals. However, this is why Imagine is doing more to expand its network and provide more rural infrastructure.
Capacity affects speed - Your speed will depend on how many people are using the same signal as you. And because 5G signals travel shorter distances, your speed will also depend on the level of infrastructure in your particular area and how far you are from a mast.
Installation can be pricey - Imagine currently has 150Mbps broadband speeds on offer for €59.99 a month on a 12-month contract. It also charges a set-up cost of €150 for new customers, which isn’t exactly cheap. That being said, if you have few broadband options it might be worth taking the hit initially for a good connection.
Learn more about 5G
Are you looking for more information on 5G? We answer the common questions asked about 5G in our helpful guide.
We recently assessed what 5G mobile plans are now available. There is plenty of choice for consumers, with over 10 deals on offer.
More and more providers are launching 5G networks across Ireland. At the start of June, Eir announced that its 5G broadband network is now available to over 57% of the population.
Compare broadband on bonkers.ie!
If you’re considering switching your broadband provider or even thinking about signing up for the first time, you can check out your broadband options using our broadband comparison tool.
All you need to do is type in your address and click search and you’ll be able to see all of the broadband options available at your address and which you can sign up to.
Running a comparison and switching your broadband on bonkers.ie only takes a couple of minutes and what’s more, it’s entirely free to do!
Take a look at our guide on frequently asked questions in relation to switching broadband for more help.