Pledge for over 75% of Ireland to have high-speed broadband access by end of 2018

Communications Minister Denis Naughten has pledged more than three-quarters of the country will have access to high-speed broadband by the end of next year.

Communications Minister Denis Naughten In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr Naughten also said the process of connecting some 540,000 homes and premises in rural spots under the national broadband plan will begin next year. Reiterating previous comments about the roll-out of fast internet access here, he said Ireland could end up being a “global leader” in providing high-speed broadband in isolated rural communities.

The national broadband plan, as well as the use of private firms to bring access to high-speed internet in homes nationwide, has been beset by delays and tendering problems. The plan was first mooted in 2012 and the parallel processes of the state-subsidised schemes for 540,000 properties and private connections for hundreds of thousands of others have been delayed. But Mr Naughten has now pledged most of the country will be online by the end of 2018: “I can say by the end of next year, 78% of premises in the country will have access to high-speed broadband.

“The likelihood is it is going to be higher than that but I am not going to commit myself until I see the colour of their money. It will probably be higher with wireless rollout.” A number of areas remaining will first get access to wireless networks, ahead of broadband being provided.

However, the crucial intervention is in areas which commercial operators have not taken full ownership of and the State must intervene, under the plan, to provide broadband. “We will be going to final tender early in the new year on that. That will deliver high-speed broadband to 540,000 homes and premises across rural Ireland.

I expect we will see that moving ahead next year now.” Elsewhere, a number of private operators are rolling out schemes. Eir will connect high-speed broadband and high-speed connections to over 300,000 homes and this will be completed by the end of next year, he added.

In total, private operators are spending about EUR1.92m a day in rolling out infrastructure, explained the minister. He added: “The expectation is by 2020 to have coverage in 91% of premises and then to complete out the outstanding premises after that.” If all goes to plan, despite the long delays, connections could see Ireland being held up as a model for other countries.

The Independent minister said: “It is a complex area and the procurement process that has been used for this is complicated as well, and the reason for that is it is a very different approach that hasn’t been taken anywhere else in the world up to now.

Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the internet, speaking last June in Dublin, said that Ireland, if they crack this particular issue which no one else has done before, will be the global leader in providing high-speed broadband to isolated rural communities.”

(C) Irish Examiner Ltd.

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