Telecoms provider Imagine Communications says it plans to accelerate the expansion and rollout of its 5G fixed broadband network across the country.

It says the enhanced investment in its programme is in response to growing demand for better broadband driven by the surge in online demand usage since the onset of the pandemic.

The company provides wireless broadband mainly to homes in areas not covered by high speed providers.

Imagine says it's on course to extend coverage of its 150Mb (Megabits per second) broadband service to 1.1 million homes and businesses in regional and rural areas by the end of June.

The company confirmed that 350,000 - around two thirds - of the 540,000 'Amber Premises' identified in the National Broadband Plan as having poor or inadequate broadband will now have access to Imagine's service.

Its national fibre network extends to 268 mast locations across 26 counties.

Imagine said that as part of the next phase of its investment, an additional 60 mast locations were already being deployed to provide additional capacity in existing coverage areas and extending coverage to new areas.

"With the shift online and acceleration to a digital economy, the Covid pandemic has brought into sharp focus the deficit and urgent need for the accelerated roll out of next generation high performance broadband across the country for what has become a basic essential service," Sean Bolger CEO of Imagine said.