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How 4site engineers innovate

“We are design-led. It’s a unique selling point. We bring innovation to every project we do.”

Ian Duggan, CEO 4site

Key Takeouts:

  • 4site is a leader in the design, survey and installation of fibre networks.

  • The company has fostered a culture of innovation, learning and knowledge-transfer.

  • Success is driven by cost-efficiencies and speed made possible by innovative design.

  • Enterprise Ireland’s Grad Start funding supported the employment of graduate engineers to meet the challenges of a quickly changing sector.

Case Study: 4site

4site is a leader in the design and roll out of large-scale fibre network systems, the gold standard for digital connectivity. Founded in 2003, the company is based in Limerick, with offices in Dublin and the UK, and has approximately 80 employees. 

Starting out as an engineering firm, run by and employing engineers, 4site is committed to a culture of innovation with new, imaginative design solutions that give the company a competitive edge.

“If I were to offer advice to start-ups in the sector it would be to diversify – don’t be too dependent on a particular capability.” 


Innovation at 4site

This is reflected in the recruiting and training of graduate engineers, supported by Enterprise Ireland’s Graduate Business Growth (Grad Start) and Job Expansion Funds.

Enterprise Ireland’s support helped expand the number of employees and establish an in-house Fibre Planning Programme tailored to the skills 4site requires. Employees are mentored, attend weekly training sessions and are encouraged to contribute new ideas through an Innovation Forum. In 2018, Engineers Ireland acknowledged 4site’s excellence in CPD through its Accredited Employer Scheme.


“One of the most successful parts of our business is getting young, enthusiastic graduates who contribute a wealth of new ideas. They always have a faster, better way of doing things and within six months, they are really fantastic additions to the organisation.” 


The ‘4Survey’ app, introduced in 2017 and developed in partnership with Esri, the international supplier of geographic information software, was a product of the Innovation Forum. No more marking maps by hand, taking photos on a handheld device and filling in spreadsheets, which are then taken separately to a central office. The app does it all, transferring complex survey data straight to the design team via the internet. The survey process is now 50% faster, more accurate and more cost effective.

A further innovation is the use of the latest drone technology. Drones highlight solutions not readily available from ground level – for example, carrying out an asset inventory check on a 40m tower, gauging the safety of a rooftop before accessing it, or eliminating the need for permits and mobile platforms at the roadside. Cost and disruption are kept to a minimum, while health and safety risks are minimised by reducing the need for working at height.

This approach has garnered impressive results. A leading provider of fibre network in the UK is blue chip firm CityFibre. 4site recently won the contract to design CityFibre’s new networks in the UK cities of Huddersfield and Coventry. This contract is 4site’s biggest yet and is worth in excess of one million sterling. CityFibre has ambitious plans to provide fibre to five million homes across 12 UK cities.

In 2017, 4site provided survey and design services to develop a 5G-ready network for the Scottish city of Aberdeen. 4site also fitted a network of ‘small cell’ sites connected to existing fibre and power services. Small cells are unobtrusive and cost-effective installations, ensuring excellent wireless and mobile phone coverage particularly suited to the densely populated urban environment.

With over a decade’s experience of major network infrastructure projects, 4site has acquired a reputation for excellence. This year, they were only the second Irish company accepted to the FTTH Council of Europe. They have also achieved ISO certification in environmental management, quality management, and health and safety, as well as acquiring a list of major clients including Vodafone, Cignal, Huawei, Three, Nokia, Ericsson, O2, Eir and Siro.

Duggan recognises that quality and reliability are also important factors in their success, “I think it’s trust that builds strong relationships with our customers, and the fact that we can do things faster and cheaper than our competitors.”


How support from Enterprise Ireland helped 4site to succeed

Advice from Enterprise Ireland resulted in a greater emphasis on sales and marketing, and a restructuring of the management team, Duggan explains, “Enterprise Ireland encouraged us to rebrand and invest in full time sales and marketing managers.  We have built a strong leadership team in the organisation – that has been key.”

“Enterprise Ireland’s advice and support were transformative for the business.” 

4site also made use of Enterprise Ireland’s Business Accelerator Funding scheme to expand into the UK market with offices established in Reading in 2012.


The future for 4site

Europe is only just beginning to promote fibre networks with countries such as the UK, Ireland, Italy and Germany trailing behind. According to the 2017 FTTH Ultrafast Broadband Country Ranking the UK has approximately 3% coverage. The market potential therefore is vast.


Learn how Enterprise Ireland can support your Innovation project here.

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