National Broadband Plan to boost rural Ireland

Minister for Communications Alex White promises high-speed broadband for every household by 2020

David Baker
by David Baker on 25th November, 2014

A public consultation on the National Broadband Plan that will eventually see every house and business in Ireland with access to high-speed broadband has been unveiled by the Government.

Even properties in the most rural locations will receive coverage, while UPC has welcomed the launch of the Government’s public consultation on the proposals.

Communications minister Alex White released a map detailing the National Broadband Plan and where high speed broadband connections are expected by 2016. An estimated 700,000 homes and businesses are currently without minimum 30Mb broadband – the target for the plans – and no price tag has been placed on the project.

The existing network covers 1.6 million properties which is equivalent to around 68% of the total homes and businesses in Ireland and rural locations are those most likely to miss out.

Maximising Ireland’s digital potential

“The National Broadband Plan and related development programmes provide the building blocks for further progress which will complement the multi-million euro investments that have been or are being made by the private sector,” explained a UPC spokesperson.

“The challenge for Ireland will be to ensure that we close any remaining gaps with the rest of Europe in order to maximise the economic and social benefits from our digital future.”

Pat Rabbitte originally unveiled the plans from his role as Communications Minister in 2012, while any physical building is unlikely before late 2016.

White said the Government has moved “a significant step closer to closing the digital divide” after publishing the map and said he personally hopes to have the project completed by 2020.

Providing support to rural Ireland

“The delivery of high-quality broadband is about ensuring that our citizens in rural Ireland have the same life chances, and the same access to information, culture, ideas, social interaction and opportunity that people in urban areas can enjoy,” he added.

White also said that having rural broadband would boost local economies so that “business in rural Ireland can stay in rural Ireland”.

eircom has also welcomed the National Broadband Plan, describing the consultation as an “important next step”

The company, which operates the largest broadband network in Ireland, added that it represents “an opportunity to remove any digital divide between urban and rural Ireland”.

Around 1,100 small towns and villages are set to benefit from the scheme with the counties of Roscommon, Mayo, Leitrim, Monaghan, Kerry and Cavan deemed those most needing assistance.

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