Increase means service will be faster than for most city-based customers
The National Broadband Plan’s basic internet service is to be tripled in speed, the company rolling it out has announced.
Exclusively revealed by Independent.ie in early July, National Broadband Ireland (NBI) has now confirmed the plan, which will see the basic package increased from 150Mbs to 500Mbs.
This will mean the entry-level broadband service for 540,000 disadvantaged rural homes will be much 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 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. It 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 David McCourt, NBI’s executive chairman. “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.”
The NBP is due to begin connecting homes by the end of the year or early next year.
In a statement, the company said that in the six months since work commenced, NBI “has mobilised its team to work across 17 counties nationwide with survey work completed for over 63,000 premises”.
It added that “build work” for the new fibre network was due to commence in parts of Cork and Cavan by the end of this month, and shortly after that, in townlands in Galway.
“As a project of tremendous size and scale, the Intervention Area spans 96pc of Ireland’s land mass and NBI will eventually use enough fibre to go round the world nearly four times as it delivers state-of-the-art fibre-to-the-home connections,” the company said.