Friday 28 November 2014

Government to invest up to €512m in rural broadband scheme

Published 25/04/2014 | 15:24

Pat Rabbitte's comment about campaign promises should be borne in mind. Photo: Tom Burke
Pat Rabbitte

The government is to triple its rural broadband rollout fund, investing up to €512m over the next two years in connecting over 1,000 rural towns and villages to fibre broadband.

The initiative, which is expected to attract hundreds of millions in additional investment from private telecoms operators, is targeting 900,000 homes and businesses in small towns, villages and townlands around Ireland.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said that the network would begin construction next year, but would not be completed within the lifetime of the government.

Here’s a guide to what the government has announced.

What does a ‘rural fibre broadband network’ mean?

It’s a state-subsidised fibre broadband service that is being built to reach parts of rural Ireland that no commercial broadband provider will service. The government says that means 900,000 “premises” (homes and businesses) in small towns, villages and townlands around Ireland.

What if my village isn’t on the list of 1,000 identified?

The list is not yet final, so it is still possible to have your village considered.

Will it reach every single home in the country?

No. The commitment is to get fibre to all rural towns and villages. But if your house is three miles outside a village, you will still probably require some other method (such as wireless broadband) to connect to the main network.

How much will it cost to subscribe to?

It will cost the same as comparable broadband services in cities and urban areas. So for a 30Mbs service, you should expect to pay no more than €30 per month for it, at today’s prices.

Will it be proper fibre broadband?

The core network will be fibre, but the actual connection into your home could still be a telephone line. While new fibre lines are being built under the plan, it doesn’t promise ‘fibre to the building’, which would be far more expensive (and which the ESB is promising). But even still, it will still deliver much, much faster speeds than existing telephone broadband in rural Ireland.

When will I get it?

The government says it will start building it next year. That probably means the that the earliest we’ll see the service in action is sometime in 2016.

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