Coastal views of Arranmore Island, Donegal

Case study: Provide network monitoring and analytics for an Atlantic island

The challenge

Arranmore is a rugged Atlantic island located 5km off the coast of Donegal, in the northwest of Ireland. By 2019, the permanent population of the island was less than 500 people and the island’s unique culture and way of life were under threat. Tourism was its main industry but many local people were forced to leave in search of jobs, education, and access to better services.

Three believed that the introduction of superfast broadband could create a brighter future for the island - one powered by connectivity. This would provide more business, tourism, healthcare and education opportunities, and help the community to grow and thrive in a connected world. 

The ambitious plan relied on Three’s point-to-point wireless leased line but it would require a complex supporting network of local access and backhaul to deploy services in such a remote, inaccessible location. Customers expect a high quality, reliable service that they can depend on, making it imperative that Three had real-time visibility of network health. 

The solution 

Our VisiMetrix solution provided Three with real-time insights into the health of their network. It is able to handle thousands of individual cells, links and nodes across multi-vendor environments within backhaul, transmission, fixed, mobile, access, and core networks. In Three’s case, this translated to monitoring key metrics of each cell site and network link to assemble and present a dynamic view of end-to-end service availability. 

We started working with Three in 2015, when we helped assemble network data and model a representation of Radio Access Network health. In 2018, Three expanded the scope to include Microwave Radio Transmission links connecting base stations back to the core network. VisiMetrix continued to grow with the network, to display sites that are down due to planned works and upgrades, add new technologies such as 5G, and enrich services with new data sources layered on top of existing views. 

It now provides AIOps enabled network service analytics to deliver real-time monitoring, predictive analytics, user-friendly visualisations and multi-vendor integration. Our data science team has introduced new machine learning models to forecast future network performance and anomaly detection tools to proactively monitor the network. 

The result

VisiMetrix provided Three with the necessary network analytics and insights to deliver on their mission to provide high quality broadband for Arranmore Island. It was able to provide detailed network visibility, identify issues in real time, and highlight potential problems for their network operations teams. This ensured that the quality of the service could be maintained, even in a setting as wild and unpredictable as Arranmore. 

“VisiMetrix provides Three Ireland with the intelligence to monitor and proactively respond to service related issues within the network, often before these issues can impact customers. Its powerful alerting, network visualisations and dynamic thresholding abilities can highlight inter-dependencies and hotspots quickly, clearly and directly to network operations teams.” - John McGrane, Head of Access and Transmission Networks, Three Ireland

Ireland’s first offshore digital hub was subsequently established on the island to make remote working a reality for businesses and Three provided superfast connectivity, bandwidth, and the latest hardware. Three Business broadband+ was installed in a number of local business and community facilities, including the local school and medical centre.

In 2021, it was announced that Arranmore had seen a 13% rise in population. The provision of high speed broadband was seen as one of the major factors, with returning islanders now able to pursue remote working opportunities.


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