€44m in Budget to deliver 100Mbps broadband to schools

8 Dec 2010

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan last night confirmed that €44m will be allocated this year to deploy 100Mbps broadband to 300 schools in the country in 2011 under Budget 2011 and pave the way for a further 300 in 2012.

He said the new Rural Broadband Scheme will complement the existing €223m National Broadband Scheme.

“Currently, we have 99pc broadband coverage in Ireland. The new Rural Broadband Scheme will mean no area of the country will be without access to broadband by 2012.”

Ryan also confirmed that the new national post-codes system will become operational in Ireland by 1 January 2012.

“It will be both a post-code and a unique identifier location code. To that end, funding has been set aside for a competitive tender process to take place next year, so that Ireland can have first-class information infrastructure.”

To prepare for the switch on of digital television, he said €1.5m has been set aside in grant aid for set-top boxes for those on lower incomes.

“While necessary, savings must be made. I am pleased that we have been in a position to secure funding in the important areas of energy and communications.

“Next year, we will announce and deliver a new National Retrofit Scheme, deliver a new national post-codes system for the country, implement the Ocean Energy Strategy, provide grant assistance for electric cars, roll out the Digital Schools programme, announce a new Rural Broadband Scheme and prepare for digital television.

“This is an ambitious programme of delivery, building on our work over the previous three years.”

Green tech

Under Budget 2011, some €13m will be available to implement the Ocean Energy Strategy that will enable Ireland to unlock the power of the sea and be the first in the world with a commercially viable ocean energy device.

Amendments to the Business Expansion Scheme will help developers and promoters of green energy projects. By increasing the amount of equity which can be raised from €2m per company to €10m and by widening the scope of what is a qualifying activity, Ryan said it will act as a stimulus to activities in the wind, ocean and solar energy, geothermal and biomass sectors.

“This measure will help establish Ireland as a centre for green financing.” He added that from 1 January, grants of up to €5,000 per vehicle will be available for the purchase of electric and hybrid vehicles.

Ryan said that under Budget 2011, some €99m will be made available to deliver insulation and energy efficiency upgrades over 110,000 homes. This, he says, could create 5,000 full-time jobs.

The new National Retrofit Scheme to be announced in January 2011 will upgrade 1 million buildings over the next decade. This scheme, in tandem with the new tax credits of €30m for energy efficiency upgrades, will create another 5,000 jobs.

For work carried out under the new scheme, home owners can claim a tax credit (at the standard rate of 20pc) on works of up to €10,000.

The maximum value of the credit is set at €2,000 to the home owner and this can be used to reduce their income tax bill over a number of years. Total relief granted is up to €30m in one year.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years