The new Government is to target a speedier rollout of the National Broadband Plan, with new higher basic speeds.
The Irish Independent understands that the minimum speed to be available to every qualifying rural household and business is set to be raised to 500Mbs, more than triple the original 150Mbs stated.
The Government is also said to be allocating extra cash for a 'front-loading' of the rollout, with a desire to bring the seven-year period down to five.
A spokesperson for National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company charged with rolling out the fibre broadband to more than 500,000 rural homes and businesses, said it is "in negotiations" with the Government on speeding up the rollout. The company recently said it would complete the project under budget.
The new higher speeds are understood to be related to a price cut from rival operator Eir, which now has more than 300,000 'passed' fibre broadband premises and is aggressively trying to capture a fibre customer base.
Underlying prices for the new State-funded rural broadband are pegged to those offered by the country's biggest operators, chief among them Eir. The former incumbent recently announced a €5 price cut on higher-end wholesale broadband, placing its 500Mbs broadband service at the same price as its 150Mbs service. This means NBI would have to offer a similar standard of service at a similar underlying price.
While 500Mbs is not at the upper range of broadband speeds capable with fibre-to-the-home networks, it is more than three times as fast as the fastest landline broadband option and more than 10 times faster than a typical mobile broadband connection.
The Covid-19 lockdown has seen a surge in reliance on local broadband services, with traffic levels rising by a third.