New Government broadband mapping project gets the green light

Government launches plan to identify areas in need of state-supported broadband

Eoin Clarke
by Eoin Clarke on 1st July, 2013

The Irish Government has announced plans to assess which towns and villages across the country are likely to receive high-speed broadband from commercial providers.

The areas where broadband infrastructure will not be provided by private operators will receive state-backed investment to plug the gap. This national broadband mapping project is part of the government’s promise to deliver the National Broadband Plan, giving homes across the country access to broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps.

How will the broadband mapping project work?

The broadband mapping project will identify the broadband services already in place across the country, along with any plans to implement broadband services over the next three years.

Areas where there are no plans by commercial operators to introduce basic broadband, or Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband, in the next three years will receive state-backed funding in broadband infrastructure. The project requires voluntary participation from telecoms companies, and the government is encouraging all private operators to participate fully. Pat Rabbitte, the Minister for Communications, has said that initial participation from operators has been positive so far.

“Participation in this exercise is voluntary and it is a matter for each company to decide on its own behalf,” he said. “However, I am encouraged by the supportive attitude of the industry towards the National Broadband Plan. I would urge all operators in the telecommunications industry to participate as fully as possible. The information gathered will be used to confirm where it is sensible to use public money.”

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, which is running the broadband mapping project, has set a deadline of 23 August for companies to submit mapping information and data.

Identifying the areas which are most in need

It will then be able to start mapping this information and data in accordance with EU State Aid Guidelines for Broadband.

Once this information has been aggregated and mapped out, the Department will be able to identify which areas will need state funding to meet the requirements of the National Broadband Plan.

The National Broadband Plan aims to deliver high-speed broadband to the whole of Ireland, even in remote rural areas where current download speeds can be as little as 1Mbps or 2Mbps. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources aims to deliver broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps to every home and business in the country, no matter how rural or remote.

Not only that, but the department has promised broadband speeds of between 70Mbps and 100Mbps to half of the population by 2015. The department has also highlighted the launch of 4G mobile broadband this year as another method of achieving the high download speeds promised in the National Broadband Plan. “I look forward to considerable engagement with private and public sector stakeholders to ensure this Plan is implemented swiftly so that a connected society is delivered within the lifetime of this Government,” Mr Rabbitte added.

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