Helping Rural Communities “Get Connected” Across Ireland

May 24, 2023

Two Irish Companies Deliver High-Speed Mobile Service in Rural Ireland

Great collaboration can resolve even the most insurmountable communications problems, which is exactly what happened when Alpha Wireless and Cellnex Ireland collaborated to create solutions for Cellnex’s “Get Connected” program.

The program enables communities to request better mobile coverage in their area, and Cellnex, a neutral host provider, evaluates the project for feasibility. The collaboration with Alpha Wireless and the use of Alpha’s Tri-Sector platform has enabled Cellnex to position multiple operators on one pole, sharing expenses between operators to bring down costs. With lower costs, operators can cost-justify service in areas previously not feasible.

Colin Cunningham is the Managing Director of Cellnex Ireland, a neutral host provider, and Fergal Lawlor is the CEO of Alpha Wireless, an innovative Irish wireless antenna manufacturer. The two talked about how Cellnex is expanding its network across Ireland.

Cellnex Is Closing Ireland’s Digital Divide


We started our business in 2015, acquiring sites from Coillte, the Irish state forestry company. The challenge to growing our business was finding areas in Ireland that needed  

new sites to improve mobile phone coverage and working with our operator customers like ThreeVodafone and Eir to establish service.

We have contracts with them to deliver sites for their network expansion. That’s gone very well over the last five years. We’ve been building over 100 sites a year, working with Alpha Wireless and other partners, and coming up with new ways to roll out sites. The way the operators are expanding their networks, it’s not possible to establish sites the way we used to. I suppose it’s a testament to the companies in the Irish market that we’ve had the opportunity to grow the business.  

To put it in perspective, we started in 2015 with 300 sites, and today we’re operating over 1,800 sites in the same market. It’s been a combination of acquisitions, including buying Three Ireland’s sites and rolling out locations where operators need new coverage. 

The Antenna Solutions that Make it Possible


Alpha Wireless designs and manufactures leading-edge antenna solutions that help our customers effectively maximize coverage and capacity costs. With over 1.5 million  

antennas deployed globally; our experienced team can help with all antenna needs. 

We’re here today with Colin to discuss some recent deployments of our Tri-Sector antennas. One installation was in Vicarstown, which is very close to our headquarters in Ballybrittas.

This deployment is part of the Get Connected program, so it would be good if Colin could talk about how Cellnex is helping rural communities Get Connected across Ireland.

A Fresh Look at Rural Business Cases


There are a couple of challenges with rural communities. One is making the business case. Sometimes it’s not commercially viable to roll out sites in these areas. When we started deploying Alpha Wireless antennas about four years ago, we came up with a solution that made it more viable for us to deliver the site and for our customers, the operators, to deploy equipment on them.

What we saw was the need to engage with communities. We see weekly articles in the paper about communities struggling to get coverage, especially during the pandemic. We decided to put out a platform to engage communities and give them a way to say they want something done in their locality. The result is the Get Connected program.

The idea is that the community can come forward and register an interest in improvement in their area. We can’t guarantee any particular request for coverage will work out, but we see if we can make it happen. We propose a solution through the community’s planning process. When we get the planning approval, it’s all about having a commercially viable, low-cost solution to deploy.

The Vicarstown Solution


Vicarstown is interesting. While Alpha Wireless has deployed antennas in other markets where two operators are using the antenna, this is the first time in Ireland that we’ve deployed a solution using streetworks with two operators on it.

Today, I’m glad to say that last Friday, Vodafone went live. We now have two operators, Vodafone and Three, live and operating in Vicarstown using a streetworks pole.

Rural Irish Communities Have More Going on Than Meets the Eye


When you look at the area we’re covering, it’s a small locality. But when you look at what’s happening inside that locality, you have the Greenway, lots of tourism activity and local businesses.

One of the businesses working for Alpha Wireless said they had to go outside into the yard to make a phone call. So Get Connected is a combination of bringing the community together, giving them an opportunity to support an infrastructure deployment, and then bringing the operators to the table.

Economies of Scale for Multiple Operators


We’re able to provide something very cost-effective that allows the operators to deploy more  

sites. Over the last six to nine months, we’ve had a lot of requests coming in from communities, and it’s only now the first of these sites is rolling out.

We have three or four now deployed in County Laois, the first county where we launched the initiative. The plan is to go national over the next few months. 

The dual-operator solution with two operators in a single compact canister means that one operator isn’t paying for the whole deployment; two operators can now share the costs. In time, if one operator has the money to deploy 10 sites, the fact that two operators can share the cost means they can roll out 20 sites. 

Preserving the Aesthetics of the Community


And how about the communities, then? You’re coming in with one pole and one road dig instead of two, so that has to be a benefit, right?


Absolutely. The last thing communities want to see is two or three structures going up in an area. We can accomplish the same result with one installation. The traditional deployment has been a lattice tower or a monopole. When you look at the solution deployed there, it’s a slender, sleek pole that fits in well with the environment. 

Deploy Wireless Antennas with Economies of Scale

If you’re looking to resolve the cost/capacity dilemma challenging every operator today, contact Alpha Wireless. We have solutions that enable you to gain council approval quickly, change out sectors and add antennas without removing the pole or existing antennas.

If you’d like to know more about Alpha Wireless Tri-Sector antenna solutions:



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