Saturday 22 July 2017

What broadband? 300,000 rural homes will have to wait until 2019 for start of rural rollout

EU research has found that just 8pc of rural Ireland is covered by fast broadband, a fraction of the European average of 25pc
EU research has found that just 8pc of rural Ireland is covered by fast broadband, a fraction of the European average of 25pc
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

The National Broadband Plan will be delayed by six months, according to the outgoing Minister of Communications, Alex White.

Speaking to RTE’s News At One programme today, Mr White said that 60pc of the 750,000 rural homes and business targeted under the state-subsidised plan would be connected to broadband by 2019.

He said that the remaining 300,000 rural homes would gain from a broadband connection by 2022 “at the outside”.

“Most of that work would be done in the first two years,” said Mr White. “You can appreciate that the remaining homes will take a little longer because it’s more remote.”

Mr White described the six month delay in the project as a “minor adjustment”.

“This short delay is to avoid a much longer delay,” he said. “If we don’t carefully follow state intervention rules, we could risk putting this back for years.”

“The delay we’re looking at can be measured in months, maybe six months. We should be able to sign a contract around the middle of the next year.”

The contract to build the network out to 750,000 rural homes and businesses could be worth upwards of €500m of state funding, with the government seeking an unspecified amount of matching investment from winning contract bidders.

Mr White said that the government was currently considering bid proposals from five companies. These are understood to include pitches from Eir and Siro, the joint venture between Vodafone and the ESB.

Independent TDs and rural lobby groups have heavily criticised the delayed process, arguing that their communities are losing out badly in investment and economic opportunity.

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