94 towns in line for rollout of €50m fibre broadband
HIGH-SPEED fibre broadband is set to be rolled out to 94 towns across the country – at a cost of up to €50m.
Speaking in Claremorris, Co Mayo, which was unveiled as Ireland's first fibre town, chief executive of enet, Conal Henry, said the company planned to have three to four further towns connected within a year before targeting all 94 towns with access to the State's Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) programme.
Enet holds the concession to manage, maintain and operate the two phases of the MAN programme, a network of fibre-optic cables in place in 94 towns outside of Dublin, which was initiated by the Government in 2004.
"There are 94 other towns across Ireland that have the MAN network built in and we would look ultimately to roll this network out to all of these towns over the medium term.
"We're already working with the next investment towns; we would expect to move on with the next three to four towns pretty much straight after this," he said.
Mr Henry said the cost of the roll-out across the country would reach "multiple tens of millions".
"Here in Claremorris, the cost is north of half-a-million and Claremorris would be one of the smaller towns so it's between €40m and €50m to do it nationally.
"That's money that our shareholders would have to invest if we can get the conditions right," he added.
Speaking at the launch, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the State would play its part in providing fibre broadband to parts of the country that commercial ventures did not cover.
Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Pat Rabbitte said that he expected a nationwide fibre broadband roll-out would be substantially completed by the end of this Government's term in office.
"We are going to have substantial coverage by the end of the lifetime of this Government. The joint venture in respect of ESB and Vodafone, that will start by the end of this year. Commercial operators like Eircom and UPC are aggressively extending their roll-out at the moment.
"In addition to that I expect that within three or four weeks I will be making an announcement in respect of the mapping exercise that we are preparing for State Aid's approval in Brussels in respect of the rest of the country," the minister added.