Sunday 18 August 2019

State 'commits' to €3bn rural broadband plan

Communications Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke
Communications Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke

Adrian Weckler and Kevin Doyle

The Government is "committed" to a State-subsidised National Broadband Plan because there is no alternative for 25pc of the population, Communications Minister Richard Bruton said.

Speaking in Dublin at the Small Firms Conference, Mr Bruton hinted that the Government is ready to proceed next week with the €3bn National Broadband Plan (NBP) project, which aims to connect 540,000 rural homes and businesses with fibre-grade broadband.

He also said that the Government favours construction of a rural network on existing private infrastructure rather than building a complete new "isolated" network.

Mr Bruton is expected to bring the NBP proposal to Cabinet on Tuesday to seek approval for it. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has indicated that he supports the plan.

Meanwhile, former communications minister Alex White has labelled the expected €3bn cost of rolling out the National Broadband Plan as "astonishing".

The Labour Party's Dublin candidate for the European Elections was involved in the NBP during its inception and predicted that the plan would be fully rolled out by 2021 in the worst-case scenario - a timeline that has since collapsed.

Mr White said the programme had been "absolutely dogged by delays".

Irish Independent

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