I thank the committee for this opportunity. Poynting Antennas and Novatel, which together have thousands of happy customers, believe that fixed wireless access is the true answer to overcoming the digital divide in Ireland. We believe it to be the most cost-effective way of providing all of Ireland's population, regardless of where they live, an equal opportunity to learn, work and be closer to information and their loved ones. Since fixed wireless access is capable of such achievements, it must be perceived as a vehicle for economic growth and one that will help close the gap on digital inequality. This pandemic has proven that people were, and many still are, in need of faster and more reliable Internet. Fixed wireless access is the fastest way to do that.
Fixed wireless access is a technology that is used to provide broadband connectivity without the need to install wires. It relies solely on broadly available cellular technologies like 4G or 5G. It is fairly simple for anyone to get connected. First, a person gets a SIM card with a data plan from a provider that provides service in his or her area of choice. According to the websites of the three providers in Ireland, this should be fairly easy because all of them claim that they cover 99% of the population. Second, get a cellular router, for example, 4G or 5G, and an external antenna. The external antenna is crucial to the performance of the system. Third, set up the router and install the antenna on a rooftop. If someone has any doubt about how to do that, a better option is to rely on a certified installing company like Novatel or any of its partners. Once everything is set, that person can enjoy his or her new Internet connection, which will be more stable, more reliable and more consistent.
Fixed wireless access is not only good for rural or remote areas, even though that is the topic and why we are meeting today. I do not have enough time to go through all of the use cases, but it can also be used to meet temporary demand for broadband in urban areas as backup or main access to the Internet, the Internet of Things, IoT, projects or in any kind of moving vehicle, be it an ambulance, police car, boat or so on. How is it better than any of the alternatives on the market, especially in connecting rural and regional locations like the ones we are discussing? First, it involves a lower cost on deployment. Cellular networks are already broadly available. The last mile of wired access accounts for most of the deployment costs of alternatives due to civil works. Satellite is also pretty expensive to set up. Second, unlimited data plans start from €25 per month, which would already be cheaper than a fibre or satellite connection. Third, the overall cost of the hardware needed to set up the user's side - a very good domestic router, a very good antenna and the install - places it on par with fibre-optic plans when divided by 24 months. When all of the costs and subsidies that go into fibre-optics and the cost of deploying satellite services are taken into consideration, the total cost of ownership with fixed wireless access is the cheapest.
Another important aspect is that fixed wireless access can be deployed quickly. It has a faster time to market, given that the infrastructure is already in place. This has been shown during the pandemic. It also provides freedom of choice. All three providers in Ireland provide areas with services already, and it is a flexible technology. It caters for a number of situations and, when the time comes, the antenna does not need to be replaced. Neither does the cabling - the install, per se - or the SIM card. Only the router needs to be replaced.
It also provides high speeds. With 4G broadly available and 5G picking up pace, cellular can provide fibre-like speeds now. For 4G, this is typically 50 Mbps to 40 Mbps of download and 30 Mbps of upload, with 30 ms of latency. It is a technology that has redundancy built in as a feature. After I connect my cellular router and put my antenna outside, if the mast that serves my router goes down but there is a second mast that provides coverage to the same area, I will still be able to go online.
It is a proven technology. A few years ago, the Norwegian Government was facing the same challenge that Ireland is facing today. It brought committees like this one together and ended up choosing fixed wireless access. Poynting became the provider of antennae and, working with Telenor, the mobile network operator, MNO, in Norway, we have installed more than 30,000 antennae. TDC, an MNO in Denmark, also offers this system to its clients. We have installed more than 20,000 antennae in Denmark. In the UK, we have zero agreements with MNOs or other providers, yet we have sold more than 50,000 antennae for fixed wireless access installs throughout the country.
Last but not least, and if we give it a thought, it is the greener choice. A cellular router consumes more or less the same energy - 10 W at peak - as a fibre one, but the fibre option has many more civil works attached and, hence, a larger and heavier environmental footprint.
If we need to compare it with satellite options, research shows that standard satellite hardware has an average consumption of 70 W while newer systems, such as Starlink, range from 100 W on average to 150 W on peak. If we consider that, according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, in 2018 more than 65% of Ireland's energy was coming from natural gas, coal or oil, meaning polluting sources of energy, we can see how much of a difference this will make to our environment. Fibre and satellite also have their pros and cons. We truly believe that fixed wireless access and providing broadband resorting to cellular technology outweighs the advantages when making a comparison.
This is nothing new globally, as the committee has seen, but it is nothing new to Ireland as well. We have some case studies that Novatel has been conducting in Ireland in recent months. For example, outside of Dublin, not far from Sandyford, which is a big enterprise centre in Dublin, there was a couple who could not get good, proper Internet and they were relying on a digital subscriber line, DSL, link with 3 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload. It is impossible to have a Zoom call on such a link. After Novatel deployed a cellular router and a pointing antenna, we improved the performance tenfold. If we go outside Dublin to Cork, we find the same, namely, a DSL with 2.225 Mbps download and 1.2 Mbps upload. With only a router and an antenna - a proper install - we again improved the performance tenfold. In other regions, day in and day out we have been able to outperform DSL or line-of-sight, LOS, technologies - LOS is a different radio technology for a private network - not only for private individuals but for businesses as well. A slide in our presentation shows a Ford dealership garage that has changed from a DSL to a Poynting system as well.
Until now, I was only talking about going from DSL or LOS to 4G, but you can also see it when it comes to 5G. This was done in the Netherlands, where the initial test results with a normal 4G router were allowing 4 Mbps of download and 2 Mbps of upload. Once we changed to a 5G router, we multiplied these by a considerable number. This was all from our side.