Fresh delay to National Broadband Plan
The Government has signalled a further delay to the State-subsidised National Broadband Plan, but says that the rural rollout will now consist of a fibre-to-the-home solution.
Speaking after the Budget, Communications Minister Denis Naughten said that he would not be "fixed" on the commencement of the scheme, which was originally due to see construction start this year before an announced delay until June of 2017.
Industry sources now believe construction will start in 2018, meaning some homes and businesses may not see connections until 2023.
However, Minister Naughten said that the rural rollout will now use fibre-to-the-home "as the predominant solution".
"This will mean speeds of one gigabyte, giving Ireland a huge competitive advantage," he said.
"It would place Ireland as the first country in the world to have one gigabyte throughout and it will completely reverse the urban-rural divide."
On further delays to the rollout, Minister Naughten said: "This is an intensive, complex process. It's important we don't run something just to get it out the door. There have been additional complexities to make sure local providers can avail of the infrastructure."
He said that the tender contract will award points based on the speed for rollout of the scheme.
The rural network will be privatised after its 25-year contract is up - a move calculated to keep initial rollout costs down and allow the State to spend up to €600m on other projects.
Many premises targeted under the scheme will see their broadband connection materialise in the first two years of the contract, according to the Government. However, almost half may have to wait until 2020 to see any progress.