Farm Ireland

Saturday 23 March 2019

Eir says plan to provide 30,000 farms with high-speed fibre broadband will be complete in June

The absence of high-quality rural broadband in Ireland is holding back farming
The absence of high-quality rural broadband in Ireland is holding back farming
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Eir says by June of this year some 30,000 farms will have access to high-speed fibre broadband under its fibre to the home rural rollout.

Eir chief executive officer, Ms Carolan Lennon,  told the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee,  that as of last month, the programme is 76pc complete and more than 228,000 of the specific 300,000 were passed.

"We have also passed an additional 30,000 rural premises.

"People refer to the 300,000 premises but these are not just statistics: 800 people have laid 22,000 km of fibre across the State from Drumcliff in Sligo to Rathmoylan in Waterford.

"When we are completed in June this year, some 900,000 people in rural Ireland will have access to high-speed fibre broadband, as will 30,000 farms, more than 1,000 schools, 300 business parks and 50,000 small businesses," she said.

Ms Lennon stressed that Eir's rural fibre programme is an investment of €250 million by Eir shareholders, connecting rural communities with high-speed future-proof technology.

"We believe this is the single largest investment in fixed fibre technology in rural Ireland and is unmatched in scale and scope by any other operator. I reiterate that our rural fibre to the home investment is Eir's own private capital. It is not subsidised in any way by the Government.

"Consequently, by June of this year more than 335,000 homes and businesses that originally required a subsidy under the national broadband plan will be able to avail of high-speed broadband without any contribution from the taxpayer," she said.

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Eir has rejected a suggestion its roll-out of high-speed internet to more than 300,000 rural homes contributed to difficulties for the National Broadband Plan (NBP).

The NBP process has been hit by delays, while two bidders for the contract, including Eir, dropped out.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said Eir's roll-out represented the most commercially viable homes, making those remaining in the NBP area less attractive.

He asked whether it was part of the reason there were "difficulties" with the NBP.

"I don't believe so," Ms Lennon said. She said Eir remained in the NBP bidding process even after its plan to provide broadband to 300,000 homes on a commercial basis.

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