Customer Stories / Telecommunications / Ireland

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National Broadband Ireland Brings High-Speed Internet to 1.1 Million People Using AWS

Learn how National Broadband Ireland went live in 9 months using AWS.


capital investment into infrastructure


government-mandated service level achieved

9 months

to deliver live operating environment 


premises served by new national network


National Broadband Ireland (NBI) was tasked with implementing Ireland’s National Broadband Plan (NBP), an Irish government initiative to deliver high-speed broadband services to all underserved premises in the country. This was the largest telecommunications project contracted by the Irish government and one of the largest telecommunications infrastructure projects globally. NBI’s key goal was to bring high-speed broadband  connectivity to more than 1.1 million people across more than 569,000 premises—including
homes, business, schools, and farms. To do this, NBI needed a fast and cost-effective way to meet its ambitious target to provide high-speed, future-proofed broadband access to so many premises within its 7-year rollout. This would require a resilient, reliable infrastructure that spanned the nation and could be deployed quickly and at scale.

NBI used Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the foundation of its platform, which enabled Ireland’s entire market of internet service providers (ISPs) to quickly and seamlessly connect to the NBI network and start selling fiber broadband connections directly to end-customers. The organization went live just 9 months after starting beta testing. NBI deployed more than 50 AWS services and now operates with high availability, robust fault tolerance, and  scalability.

Power company worker attending to electricity pole

Opportunity | National Broadband Ireland Launched to Bring High Speed Internet to All

NBI launched in November 2019, when the Irish government awarded the NBP contract to NBI’s lead backer, Granahan McCourt, worldwide investors in technology, media, and telecommunications. Growing from an initial bid team of under 50 personnel, NBI quickly scaled its operations to approximately 2,000 people working to deliver on the key milestones included in the contract.

To keep up with this speed and scale, NBI required a solution that would be resilient and reliable as the organization and the network grew. The organization chose a cloud-native approach to avoid the time and expense of building an on-premises infrastructure. NBI collaborated with PFH Technology Group, an AWS Partner, to prepare its proposal, and, after winning the bid, used PFH’s AWS expertise to launch a cloud-native solution quickly and efficiently.

Rolling out broadband connectivity to more than 1.1 million people across 569,000 premises meant NBI needed to build a network spanning 96 percent of the country. Working on such a high-profile project at this scale meant there was no room for error. “Scale and resilience were critical factors when taking decisions about how to build out NBI’s infrastructure,” says Peter Hendrick, chief executive officer (CEO) of National Broadband Ireland. “That’s why over two-thirds of our operating platform is built using AWS microservices. It helps us scale up and down by component, rather than by application.”

With PFH taking care of the technical aspects of building the platform, NBI could focus on the business process to deliver Ireland’s National Broadband Plan. NBI had to meet tight deadlines and performance targets, and PFH’s cloud knowledge and enterprise experience supported the organization’s ability to launch at speed.


NBI has sped up processing times by over 200% using AWS

Peter Hendrick
Chief Executive Officer, National Broadband Ireland

Solution | NBI Rapidly Builds Nationwide Infrastructure

By building on AWS, NBI avoided a long process of sizing, ordering, provisioning, and maintaining physical hardware. The organization was also able to create its platform in a much shorter time compared to using on-premises equipment. To achieve the reliability needed for this infrastructure, NBI uses AWS Regions and Availability Zones (AZs) to provide backup and fault tolerance. An AZ is one or more discrete data centers with redundant power, networking, and connectivity within an AWS Region. This rapid development of resilient infrastructure meant that NBI met the government-mandated service level agreements (SLAs) of 99.95 percent for response time and availability, and they did it in a cost-efficient manner.

To reduce operational overheads, NBI uses Amazon API Gateway—which can create, maintain, and secure APIs at any scale—to host internet-facing APIs at scale. It also uses AWS Fargate, which provides serverless compute for containers, to handle API requests. The process is orchestrated by Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), a fully managed container orchestration service that makes it easy to deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications. Amazon Aurora, designed for high performance and availability at global scale with full MySQL and PostgreSQL compatibility, provides database storage for NBI’s system.

NBI also relies on AWS to deliver services to internal users. It hosts applications, such as GE Smallworld’s proprietary database and SAP HANA for enterprise resource planning (ERP), using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances running a mix of Windows and Linux operating systems. Amazon EC2 provides secure and resizable compute capacity for virtually any workload. And NBI’s telecommunications network design teams get consistent, powerful, pre-provisioned environments that can be accessed from anywhere through Amazon WorkSpaces, a managed, secure desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solution.

NBI’s platform is designed to deliver the highest levels of security and compliance. Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) allows users to secure and monitor connections, screen traffic, and restrict instance access inside their virtual networks to logically isolate different workloads. AWS Control Tower, which can help set up and govern a secure, multi-account AWS environment, is used to manage AWS accounts.

NBI continuously monitors workloads for malicious activity using Amazon GuardDuty, which protects AWS accounts with intelligent threat detection. AWS Web Application Firewall (AWS WAF) protects web applications from common exploits and defends external APIs.

NBI uses AWS to gain greater visibility into its telecommunications platform to meet the contractual requirements and reporting obligations of the NBP, including service levels, coverage, and uptime. It centrally collates logs and metrics, using Amazon CloudWatch, which lets users observe and monitor resources and applications on AWS, on premises, and on other clouds. With the help of PFH, NBI created processes using Amazon CloudWatch and other tools to quickly and accurately report performance to the Irish government. The reports also help NBI to rapidly identify and fix any issues that arise, to incorporate lessons learned into future operations and, where possible, automate the process.

The organization also tracks changes using AWS Config—which can assess, audit, and evaluate configurations of resources—and AWS CloudTrail, which can track user activity and API use, to provide a record of all actions taken by AWS account users.

Outcome | NBI Makes the Promise of Broadband Real Across Rural Ireland Using AWS

With the knowledge and expertise of its in-house team strengthened by its partnership with PFH Technology Group and other key suppliers, NBI designed and built an open-access, wholesale telecoms platform to maximize the utilization of its new national network. This was achieved with minimal capital investment by adopting a cloud-native approach using AWS. Thousands of new premises are now gaining access to high-speed broadband every month through NBI’s rollout, and the organization continues working toward its goals, scaling as needed and paying only for the capacity and storage it requires.

NBI now uses more than 50 services from AWS. “NBI’s role designing and building Ireland’s National Broadband Plan involves processing incredibly large amounts of spatial data,” says Hendrick. “NBI has sped up processing times by over 200 percent using AWS. This speed and processing power is supporting us to deliver a complex and ambitious program against tight timelines, which is critical for a project of such significant national importance.”

About National Broadband Ireland

National Broadband Ireland (NBI) delivers the National Broadband Plan (NBP), a Public Private Partnership with the Government of Ireland. It provides a high-speed broadband network that promotes social progress, equality, and sustainability.

AWS Services Used

Amazon EC2

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) offers the broadest and deepest compute platform, with over 600 instances and choice of the latest processor, storage, networking, operating system, and purchase model to help you best match the needs of your workload.  

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Amazon CloudWatch

Amazon CloudWatch collects and visualizes real-time logs, metrics, and event data in automated dashboards to streamline your infrastructure and application maintenance.

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Amazon WorkSpaces

Amazon WorkSpaces provides a secure, managed Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) to your end users.

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Amazon Aurora

Amazon Aurora provides built-in security, continuous backups, serverless compute, up to 15 read replicas, automated multi-Region replication, and integrations with other AWS services.

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