Vodafone has begun the trial of a new network model that it says will help it to bring faster mobile connectivity to more parts of the country.

The company has switched on the country's first Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) site in north Kildare, with a plan to extend it to bring 4G coverage across the north west of the country.

Open RAN allows for different companies’ network software and hardware to work together, meaning an operator is not tied to one supplier for all of its equipment.

Using the model in Ireland will allow Vodafone to choose from a far greater variety of vendors, reducing costs in the process.

The company is also aiming to further reduce costs through an increased use of automation at its sites, allowing for "zero touch" testing and operation.

Vodafone Ireland’s deployment of Open RAN has been done in partnership with US provider Parallel Wireless.

Vodafone’s parent company has also announced plans to use the technology in at least 2,600 sites in the UK.

"Delivering Open RAN sites is a pivotal moment in the provision of mobile coverage to rural communities in Ireland, as this pioneering new approach reduces cost, increases flexibility and enables new suppliers to support the expansion of Vodafone’s mobile network in hard to reach areas," said Vodafone Ireland’s chief technology officer Didier Clavero.

"Focusing on the North West region to begin with, we will continue to identify communities across Ireland where we can more economically introduce access to voice and high-speed data using the new technology."