Friday 30 September 2016

It's tough to keep up without 'basic' connection

Published 27/04/2016 | 02:30

Not having fibre broadband used to be laughed off as a 'first world problem'. Few are laughing any more.
Not having fibre broadband used to be laughed off as a 'first world problem'. Few are laughing any more.

Not having fibre broadband used to be laughed off as a 'first world problem'. Few are laughing any more.

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From paying taxes to getting news, it's tough to keep up in life without a basic broadband connection. And 'basic' means something over 10 megabits per second, a level that 40pc of the country does without, according to official figures.

So the news of a delay in rural broadband rollout will be taken sourly outside Ireland's cities.

The Government has been promising a State-subsidised intervention for four years. As laid out, this €500m National Broadband Plan was to have delivered fibre infrastructure to every rural home and business in the country, a number calculated at 750,000 premises, by 2020. It looks very unlikely that this will now happen on schedule.

Indeed, if it follows the estimated construction time frame, it could be 2022 - or later - before it is completed.

That means that tens of thousands of households, at a minimum, could be stuck with today's equivalent of dial-up internet for the next five years.

As bleak as that sounds, there is actually some progress being made. The process of the National Broadband Plan has spurred some operators into life.

Eir, in particular, now says that it aims to extend higher speed broadband into almost half of the designated NBP catchment area - some 300,000 rural homes - over the next couple of years. Arguably, it would not be doing this were it not for the spectre of a State-subsidised scheme. Other operators, notably Vodafone and the ESB, are following suit.

The National Broadband Plan still looks likely to happen. We'll just have to wait a little longer.

Irish Independent

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