€2.5m broadband aid for small towns
THREE Irish towns are to get a new fibre broadband boost. Kilkenny, Ardee and Loughrea will benefit from a new tranche of state-backed investment that will see 'fibre rings' built in the towns specifically to connect local businesses.
The €2.5m move, which will see small firms in the three towns gain access to broadband speeds of 100Mbs and higher, is part of a 10-year process to build 'metropolitan area networks' around the country using state-backed funds.
Local businesses are likely to be charged from €70 per month upwards for the service, following a similar launch in Claremorris two months ago.
"The metropolitan area networks have helped to stimulate competition, reduce bandwidth costs and accelerate Ireland's broadband position," said Communications minister Pat Rabbitte. "They have also played an important role in supporting job creation and securing large scale foreign direct investment projects."
Last month, the Government promised to connect over 1,100 small towns in Ireland to fibre broadband infrastructure at an estimated cost of between €350m and €500m. The building process is not expected to start for at least another year.
The broadband moves come as a new study found that 150,000 new internet-related jobs could be created in Ireland over the next five years with an economic impact of €21bn. The 'UPC Report on Ireland's Digital Future', compiled by Amarach Research with reference to 1,000 Irish people, also says half of Irish businesses said they want to sell to more customers outside of Ireland by using the internet over the next two years.
But it warns that one in four Irish companies do not have a website which means they are losing customers.
It also found that Irish businesses expect 21pc of their sales to be online in 2014, putting Ireland ahead of the EU average.