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National Broadband Plan firm to triple speeds for rural customers


David McCourt's National Broadband Ireland are one of the key subcontractors

David McCourt's National Broadband Ireland are one of the key subcontractors

David McCourt's National Broadband Ireland are one of the key subcontractors

The company rolling out the state-subsidised National Broadband Plan to 540,000 rural premises has confirmed that it is to triple the previously stated basic speed of 150Mbs.

Exclusively revealed by the Irish Independent in early July, National Broadband Ireland (NBI) now says that the basic package will be launched at 500Mbs. This will mean that the entry-level broadband service for 540,000 rural homes will be far faster than most city-based cable or "high speed" internet customers. The service is expected to be priced at around €40 per month. NBI will be a wholesale provider, meaning that the packages will be sold by retailers, including operators currently selling other internet packages.

The new higher speeds are understood to be related to a price cut from rival operator Eir, which now has over 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 that 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 over three times as fast as the fastest landline broadband option and over 10 times faster than a typical mobile broadband connection.

"Since the global Covid-19 pandemic struck in Ireland over six months ago, many people's lives have changed significantly and we are much more reliant on digital connectivity than ever before," said NBI executive chairman, David McCourt. "Today's announcement to increase our minimum speeds empowers every person, every school, every farm and every business in the Intervention Area to gain access to truly world-leading speeds and we are incredibly proud to be playing our part in bringing this to rural Ireland."

Irish Independent