How to have your say on Ireland’s Digital Connectivity Strategy

25 Feb 2022

Image: © jozefmicic/Stock.adobe.com

The latest prong in the Government’s national digital strategy is seeking views from the public and industry.

The Government has opened a public consultation on its draft strategy for a more digitally connected Ireland.

This strategy aims to leverage fixed and mobile networks in support of the Irish economy as well as improved social inclusion. It sets out targets for the telecommunications sector to meet by 2030, as well as the “key enablers” needed to reach these goals.

Future Human

The formulation of this strategy stems from the Digital Ireland Framework launched earlier this month. The Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill approved in January and the network of remote working hubs being rolled out across the country are also part of this plan for Ireland’s national digital transformation.

This in turn aligns with the EU’s targets for digital transformation across member states by 2030.

What’s in the Digital Connectivity Strategy?

As a pillar of the broader national strategy, the Digital Connectivity Strategy focuses on the digital infrastructure needed to underpin it. The 14-page draft paper can be downloaded via the Government website.

Investment in energy efficiency, network integrity and security are all encouraged, while both direct and indirect Government support will facilitate the modernising of existing networks and a transition to gigabit and 5G broadband across the country. The Government’s investment includes the €2.7bn already committed through the National Broadband Plan.

Overall targets are to provide gigabit broadband to all Irish households and businesses no later than 2028, have all populated areas covered by 5G no later than 2030, and complete the network serving remote working hubs and all schools by next year.

A universal service obligation for broadband is proposed in order to ensure adequate services are available to all, while the Broadband Connection Points project will see 300 community high-speed broadband sites established in rural and isolated areas, including a number of islands off the Irish coast.

There will be a drive for research and innovation in networking and connectivity technologies, including the leveraging of pilot and test networks.

The draft plan also looks at the need for national connectivity to deploy intelligent transport and smart cities technologies.

Internationally, high-speed connectivity between Ireland and other countries must also be maintained and existing telecommunications cables protected. Recently, the Maritime Area Planning Act was enacted, which provides a system of planning for submarine cables.

The strategy also calls for “detailed implementation plans” for all key enablers, such as the National Broadband Plan, the National Cyber Security Strategy and telecoms regulators.

Described as a dynamic and evolving strategy, it is expected this plan will be reviewed every three years.

Have your say

The public consultation asks both industry representatives and members of the public to share their views on the draft strategy.

These submissions can be made by email to digitalconnectivity@decc.gov.ie before the deadline of 31 March 2022.

“We are committed to implementing the measures set out in this strategy,” said Minister of State for Communications Ossian Smyth, TD.

“Ireland needs digital connectivity that is characterised by excellent performance, security and sustainability. We need to leverage the latest technologies, in both fixed and mobile networks, to support Ireland’s economic prosperity and social inclusion.”

Smyth heralded the launch of the public consultation as a “significant step in bringing focus to the key targets”.

“I look forward to hearing people’s views,” he added.

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Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com