Imagine Secures €120M Investment

Imagine Secures €120M Investment in Irish High Speed Broadband Infrastructure from Brookfield.

Press Release May 10th, 2018

Imagine Communications Group Limited announced today that it has agreed €120 million of funding from funds managed by Brookfield, who will acquire a 50.1% indirect controlling interest in the Company in partnership with the Company’s founders. Imagine is an industry leader in the use of advanced fixed wireless infrastructure to deliver high-speed broadband services and an established operator in Ireland.

Brookfield is a leading global investor and operator of real assets with approximately $285 billion of assets under management.

With the early release of the 3.6Ghz 5G spectrum and this investment, the underserved regional and rural areas of Ireland will be the first market in Europe to benefit from Imagine’s rollout of its advanced 5G capable fixed wireless infrastructure. Designed and deployed for fixed services only, Imagine uses its 5G wireless spectrum and infrastructure to provide a secure, high-speed wireless connection between premises and base stations connected to the national fibre network. Imagine’s fixed wireless rollout provides a last mile solution to the challenges in providing high-speed broadband services to users, particularly in less densely populated areas where it has been commercially challenging to do so via fibre to the home (“FTTH”).

As more and more people connect to a media-rich web with more devices and average household usage expected to exceed 150GB per month by 2020, homes and businesses need reliable, superfast, high-capacity internet connectivity. While this is driving network investment in fibre backhaul infrastructure to exchanges, cabinets and masts, the challenge remains the last mile connection to the end user. The very high cost of FTTH, significant time to deploy and dependency on access to existing incumbent infrastructure, has and continues to be a barrier and prohibitive factor in delivering services to end users. particularly in less populated Regional and Rural areas.

The evolution to LTE Advanced and 5G and the significant increase in capacity has unlocked the potential of a new 5G Fixed Wireless model as a future proofed alternative ‘last mile’ solution to connect premises to fiber. While 4G has enabled high-speed mobile broadband, the requirement to simultaneously connect thousands of mobile devices significantly reduces the effective coverage and capacity available to individual users making it unsuitable as an alternative to fixed broadband.

However, deployed exclusively to provide fixed services (no mobile services), using only intelligent external antennae professionally installed at the customer premises, the capacity of the base station is optimised to provide a secure and dedicated high-speed connection to fibre at the bases station to a predefined maximum number of users over a comparatively wide area.

The challenge facing regional and rural Ireland is not unique and delivering high-speed broadband in less densely populated areas is a global issue. With LTE Advanced already supporting up to 300Mbps services, successful trials of 1GB services and a clear defined industry roadmap to 10Gbps as more 5G spectrum becomes available, fixed wireless is becoming the preferred alternative to previously planned FTTH deployments to deliver future proofed ultrafast broadband services.

“With the network already live and delivering high speed broadband services to 20k existing customers in rural areas, fully funded we will now commence the full commercial rollout of the network and the availability of next generation high-speed broadband services of 150Mbps to over 300 areas and 1.4 million premises within 2 years, with further investment in additional sites to meet customer demand”. said Sean Bolger, Founder and Executive Chairman of Imagine. “This represents a significant commercial investment in essential infrastructure in Ireland to finally deliver the long-awaited benefit of high-speed broadband service, particularly to users and communities in the underserved rural and regional areas”. Details of the full commercial rollout and availability of the services will be officially announced in the coming months

“For Imagine it was important to have an investor and partner who understood the significance and scale of the opportunity. As a leading global investor and operator of real assets and with its understanding of essential infrastructure, experience in scaling businesses and global reach, Brookfield is the right partner.”

The transaction is subject to certain conditions including competition and regulatory approval and is expected to complete in the third quarter of 2018.


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About Imagine Communications

Headquartered in Sandyford in Dublin, since 1993 Imagine Communications Group and its associated businesses has been an innovator and strategic investor in the Irish and European fixed, wireless and mobile telecoms markets. Imagine is an industry recognised innovator in the use of TD LTE advanced fixed wireless technologies WTTx as an alternative to FTTx. Through its international network the Group provides wholesale services to telecom operators and services providers.

Note to editors:
In Australia the governments subsidised National Broadband Company NBB Co is already deploying Fixed Wireless as an alternative to previously planned FTTH deployments and currently conducting trials for 1Gbps services. In Asia fixed and mobile operator Softbank (Japan) provide a 261Mb high speed broadband service using LTE Advanced as an alternative to FTTH in Tokyo while in the US, AT&T, T Mobile, Verizon and Sprint, awaiting the release of 5G spectrum ,have already announced 5G Fixed Wireless deployments,

Imagine’s advisors on the transaction were Oakley Advisory Ltd (UK), AIB Corporate Finance (IRL) and Drake Star Partners (UK).

Government Urged to Appoint a Digital Safety Commissioner

Government Urged to Appoint a Digital Safety Commissioner

The Government has been urged to appoint a digital safety commissioner who would be tasked with consulting with social media platforms with a view to strengthening their safety policies for children.

In all, the Oireachtas joint committee on children and youth affairs has made 18 recommendations on cybersecurity for young people in a report to be published later today.

“Internet safety and security for children and young adults is one of the most urgent and pressing child protection concerns facing policy makers, parents and guardians, teachers and, most importantly, children and young adults themselves,” said committee chairman Alan Farrell.

Jump over to the full Irish Examiner article to see further recommendations.


National Broadband Plan Hits Another Speed Bump

Conal Henry’s departure from Enet raises more questions than answers at this critical juncture.

Conal Henry’s departure from Enet raises more questions than answers at this critical juncture. And the people need answers, writes John Kennedy.

The decision of Conal Henry to step down from Enet during what seemed to be the pinnacle of his success only serves to raise more questions than answers about the National Broadband Plan (NBP).

I heard about Henry’s departure from the helm of Enet as I was traveling back from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in a race against the weather and to avoid being stranded away from home for a week.

As the plane descended on Dublin amidst a blizzard, my own mind was a-blizzard about what this could potentially mean.

It is yet another strange twist in the yet-to-begin NBP, which has up until this point sown more confusion than actually given people what they really want: connectivity.

A plan such as the NBP ought to be clear-cut and decisive. Instead, it has become a tangled web of intrigue, promises and frustration.

The departure of Eir from the NBP in recent weeks – just months after the Vodafone-ESB joint venture Siro left – from the process was not encouraging.

Either way, Communications Minister Denis Naughten, TD, was bullish at the time that the NBP would go ahead and that Enet-SSE, as the last consortium standing, would be awarded its contract in September 2018, with shovels due to hit the turf days later.

It signified a key moment of success for Henry after 12 years of stewarding the company, in terms of winning the contract to manage the 94 metropolitan area networks, and growing it from nothing into a network that includes dark fibre backhaul infrastructure transiting the rail and gas network, and three proprietary metro networks, including a 100km fibre ring in Dublin. Enet also operates one of the largest licensed wireless networks in the country.

Last week, however, Enet announced Henry’s departure.

Henry said: “After 12 years working with the wonderful team at Enet, the time has come for me to hand over the reins. I am so exceptionally proud to have been associated with this great company.”

David C McCourt, Enet’s chair, said: “Conal’s departure does not impact on Enet’s participation in the National Broadband Plan procurement process. Peter Hendrick, who is continuing as managing director for all growth initiatives for Enet, will also continue to lead the Enet team and as bid director of the Enet-SSE consortium.”

Another twist in the road to full connectivity?

After so many twists and turns in the road to 100pc broadband in Ireland – remember, shovels are not yet in the ground – you could be forgiven for suspecting that there’s more to this than meets the eye.

To read more click to view the full article on Silicon Republic



Moleskine’s latest smart pen saves your writing to download later

So long as you don’t mind paying $180 for a writing implement.

Moleskine has valiantly tried to bridge the divide between analog writing and digital files for years. The company released its Smart Writing Set in 2016 as a $200 holistic solution of pen, proprietary smart paper and app that instantly sent whatever you wrote or drew over to your paired device — which worked as long as your smartphone or tablet was nearby. But its newest writing implement, the $180 Pen+ Ellipse, liberates you from the latter need, saving all your scratchings in an offline mode until it connects to your device again.

This could actually be handy for writing in busy situations — trains, outdoors, in low-light — where pulling out your device to sync up is cumbersome. Unlike the pen that comes with the Smart Writing Set, the Pen+ Ellipse also has a little clip on the cap to slide on to your favorite notebook — though, of course, you’ll be using a $30 one from Moleskine’s Smart Writing Set line, since those are the only ones with the aforementioned Ncode smart paper. If you want to make it to the digital note-taking future, you’ll have to pay to get there.

Jump over to Engadget to learn more
Credit: Engadget

The Technology and Social Media Rules Kids and Teens Wish Their Parents Would Follow

7 general rules children wished their parents would follow

We talk often about the rules we should be setting for our children around their use of technology and social media, but here’s the rub – the way we as parents use technology can affect our children as much as their use of technology affects them. Rules around technology usage in families can be a source of angst for both parents and kids. Even when rules are agreed on, enforcing them can bring as much joy into the household as a three-day old temper.

Researchers explored technology usage rules in families, but from an angle which is rarely considered – the rules children would like their parents to follow. The study, involving 249 families with children between the ages of 10 and 17 has revealed some fascinating details.

The research found 7 general rules children wished their parents would follow.

To find out more jump over to the full article on Hey Sigmund.

Credit: Hey Sigmund

Imagine closes in on $180m deal for broadband rollout

Telecoms firm using wireless technology to provide internet to rural areas

Telecoms business Imagine is closing in on a large financing deal to help build out its wireless broadband network.

The company has been talking to a number of parties and a North American infrastructure fund has emerged as a frontrunner in the process, the Sunday Independent understands. The fund is prepared to inject in the region of $160m-$180m (€129-€145m) into Imagine in a combined debt/equity package. Imagine would also be able to draw on its own financial firepower for the project.

That includes the proceeds derived from settling a legal dispute with Motorola over a previous broadband project.

Imagine – run by executive chairman Sean Bolger – has been working on a so-called Long Term Evolution (LTE) broadband network. Bolger did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

The LTE network connects areas to the internet via wireless technology – often placed on phone masts – rather than fixed-line copper cables and is seen as useful for remote areas. Speaking to the ‘Irish Independent’ in November, Bolger said the company had been offering a limited trial service that had attracted around 20,000 customers. He said the company had received expressions of interest from around 100,000 further potential subscribers. Delays in the Government’s National Broadband Plan are likely to benefit Imagine which says on its website that it wants to build LTE “where people need it most”.

The longer the National Broadband Plan takes to come to fruition, the greater the chance Imagine will have to steal a march on rivals. Bolger said in November that he aimed to have the full network established in 18-24 months. He said the initial deployment had been “extremely successful.” “We’re one of the first companies to do it and now it’s becoming mainstream.”

Imagine was one of the parties that successfully bought access to the upcoming 5G spectrum, expected to be launched in Ireland in 2021 at the earliest. 5G is a faster type of wireless internet.

In 2016 Imagine sold its retail business division to Magnet Networks, saying its focus was to “deliver fibre-based next-gen services to regional and rural communities across Ireland.”

Click here for the full guide
Credit Irish Independent

What is 4K TV?

Learn about 4K technology in this guide.

With rapidly falling prices and big names like Sky and Netflix on board, 4K Ultra HD TVs are fast becoming the norm.

The best TVs from the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG are all now 4K Ultra HD televisions. These are fast replacing HD models as the TV of choice in our living rooms. Sky and Netflix are geared up for 4K, and you can now buy a 4K TV for under £500.

Click Tech Talk for the full guide
Credit Teck Talk Currys


Hottest Tech Gadgets for 2018

Want to find out about the hottest tech gadgets for 2018?

2018 is here! To get your year started right, we’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of the most innovative, unique, and useful gadgets that we’ve found on the market today. There are gadgets that help save money, save time, or could even save your life – and others that are just plain cool!

We’ve purchased and tested each of these gadgets ourselves, to ensure they’re of the highest quality and not just some cheap knockoff.

Without any more waiting, here’s our top gadget picks for 2018. However, please be aware that most of these products are selling out everywhere. If you see some gadgets that you might want, you should order them now before they run out of stock!

Click here to see the hottest picks!

From Amazon Echo to Google Home, the best smart home devices for 2018

In recent months a push by Google, Amazon and other tech giants has propelled smart home devices into the mainstream.

Voice-automated lights, virtual assistants and everyday artificial intelligence; a little over a year ago this technology was in its infancy, but in recent months a push by Google, Amazon and other tech giants has propelled smart home devices into the mainstream.

While at the turn of 2017 we only had Amazon’s Echo smart speaker andGoogle’s Home, now both line ups have been bolstered by a range of new hardware, and in 2018 we can expect speakers from the likes of Apple and Samsung to vying for buyers attention.

What are smart home devices?

Smart home devices let you turn your home into an automated, voice-activated and app-controlled hub. Set your thermostat from your workplace, keep an eye on the pets with a remote camera, or set an alarm with your voice.

Some of the most popular smart home devices are the current generations of smart home hub. These include Amazon’s Echo speakers and Google’s Home speaker.

Click here to learn more about how to use Amazon Echo and Google home and how to set up your smart home.

Colm McCarthy: Telecom giant’s exit leaves taxpayers to count cost of rural broadband pledge

It could be time to think again about the privatised State telecoms network, writes Colm McCarthy

Communications minister Denis Naughten shrugged off last Thursday’s news that Eir, the former State-owned telecoms monopoly, had withdrawn from the procurement process for the Government’s rural broadband scheme. With just one bidder left, he claims the procurement process will be simplified and the process will go ahead smoothly. But the minister represents the taxpayers as well as those expecting early connections, and the taxpayers are on the hook for the costs of the scheme. Would you be pleased to arrive at the fair, with a horse that must be sold, to discover that just one buyer had bothered to attend?

The minister’s reluctance to acknowledge this predicament illustrates some familiar pitfalls for policymakers in utility-type industries. The main one is that the regulation of monopoly utilities is not simple. When Telecom Eireann was privatised back in 1999, the company owned the core national telecoms network. Almost 20 years later, and despite technological change and the arrival of new providers of wholesale network capacity, the successor company Eir remains the dominant provider of fixed-line communications infrastructure.

To read more click here