Some 29 projects representing 25pc of all national submissions for the Group Broadband Schemes have been approved by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. The 29 projects, steered largely by public sector consortium Shannon Broadband, represent more than 80 rural communities.
Led by Shannon Development, Shannon Broadband involves local authorities of Limerick City, Limerick County, Clare, North Tipperary and Offaly with the support of the Mid-West Regional Authority.
An innovative ‘Shannon Connect’ project aimed at driving the provision of broadband to rural communities was instrumental in ensuring a high takeup of the Group Broadband Scheme in the region.
The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey TD said that the 29 projects are to receive grant aid of almost €900,000 to support an overall infrastructure investment of €3m in broadband for the region.
The progress of broadband delivery in the Shannon Region can be gauged from the fact that since 2001 the number of broadband providers has grown from three to more than 20.
Kevin Thompstone, chief executive of Shannon Development and chairman of the Shannon Broadband body, commented that pervasive broadband for all is now on the way to becoming a reality in the region.
“Following an analysis of broadband services availability and cost in 2001 Shannon Broadband set out to tackle the supply and demand issues around broadband connectivity. In the past five years we have achieved a lot: we now have choice on back haul, we have increased DSL availability and a carrier neutral fibre (MAN) in place in Limerick delivered on time and within budget — the 63-kilometre fibre optic network involved an investment of €6.8m. A Point of Presence (PoP) has also been set up in Limerick.
“MANs will soon be delivered to eight more towns in the region: Roscrea, Newcastlewest, Nenagh, Birr, Kilrush, Abbeyfeale, Banagher and Templemore. When these projects are complete, the total investment in delivering broadband connectivity to urban and rural areas in the Shannon region will be in excess of €20m, supported with grant aid from the Government,” Thompstone said.
By John Kennedy