7,500km broadband network for Midlands

22 Apr 2003

A 7,500km fibre optic network that will traverse four counties in the Midlands is to be rolled out as part of the National Broadband Plan as part of a €11.4m investment.

The Midlands project, part of the overall €65m broadband project for 19 towns that is 90pc Government funded, will see fibre optic cable stretch between Tullamore, Portlaoise, Athlone, Mullingar and Roscommon.

Work on rolling out the 7,500km network is expected to be completed by year’s end in four of the locations, with Athlone due to be completed early next year.

“These metro rings send a clear signal to any investor that these midland towns are an ideal location for inward investment. A modern, high-speed, low-cost communications and broadband network is an essential enabler of economic activity and social inclusion, said the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Dermot Ahern TD.

He added: “This new internet superhighway will target hospitals, third-level institutions, business and industrial parks and other key locations. There is no doubt in my mind that the five midland towns involved in the project will benefit significantly. These towns are thriving business and industrial centres and the provision of high-speed networks will be of immense benefit.”

Across the country, as part of the National Broadband Plan, towns from Donegal to Cork will be connected to the broadband backbone. It is envisaged that once the rollout is completed, it will provide cheap, always-on access to the internet for businesses and homes as well as schools, colleges and hospitals.

Each of the 19 principal towns identified for the project will be circled by a metropolitan area network (MAN) that will stretch for 17km around Athlone, 18km around Mullingar, 19km around Portlaoise, 13km around Tullamore and 10km around Roscommon.

By John Kennedy