Free spectrum boosts Irish broadband

A high-speed wireless network running at 2.4GHz in Dublin is embracing 5.7GHz after seeing plenty of demand for its service

Irish Broadband, which launched a pioneering wireless broadband service in and around Dublin earlier this year, is looking to expand its network after seeing high demand for its products.

The company announced on Thursday that it will begin using the licence-exempt 5.7GHz band. Its existing network runs at 2.4Ghz -- the frequency used by 802.11b -- and it plans to link its 2.4Ghz base stations together using connections running at 5.7GHz.

By doing this, Irish Broadband hopes to offer its services in other major cities across Ireland. The 5.7GHz links, which will be non-line of sight, will give its network more bandwidth and a longer range, the company said.

"The ability to install base stations where demand is highest has enabled us to grow rapidly, whilst keeping our costs low," said Paul Doody, managing director of Irish Broadband.

"With the expansion of our network and the use of the latest technology -- 5.7GHz networks -- we will be able to meet the soaring demand for broadband services in Ireland," Doody added.

Alvarion, which supplied the original network equipment for Irish Broadband, will also provide the 5.7GHz kit.

Wireless is seen as a key technology for extending the availability of broadband networks to areas where fixed-line services aren't seen as economically viable. Many networks have already been set up in places such as Wales and Cumbria that use affordable Wi-Fi kit running at 2.4GHz to make broadband Internet available.

There is growing interest in the 5.7Ghz band because of its greater capacity and speed, so Irish Broadband's initiative could work as a test case for linking individual community networks together and making broadband available in more remote areas.

Because both the 2.4GHz and the 5.7GHz bands are licence-exempt, Irish Broadband is free to set up the network without applying for a permit from the government. But this can also lead to problems, as there is nothing to stop two networks being set up near each other using the same frequency and causing interference.

Despite this, Irish Broadband said it will offer guaranteed broadband connection speeds, promising to provide "wireless leased line equivalent quality at DSL prices".