Out of a total allocation of €561m, the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources said it will allocate €10m to support achieving a 100pc broadband coverage in areas where it is not viable for operators to deploy infrastructure.
A total of €45.7m is being allocated by the Department of Communications for ICT programmes, out of which €10m will be made available to achieve 100pc coverage.
However, this €10m falls far short of the €60m that Eircom earlier this year estimated will be needed to achieve 100pc coverage.
“Almost 30pc of households in Ireland now have broadband and broadband services are available to nearly 85pc of households,” the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey TD said.
“However I want to see a situation where every reasonable request for broadband will be met at a reasonable price and with the funding boost provided for communications in 2007 I believe we can achieve this,” Minister Dempsey said.
The decision to invest to achieve 100pc broadband coverage was welcomed last night by Chambers Ireland. “The modernisation of the rural exchanges will open up the digital marketplace to businesses in small towns and villages across Ireland and enable the development of sustainable local economies,” Chambers Ireland chief executive John Dunne said.
As well as the investment in broadband, Dempsey’s department is allocating €5m a year over five years (up to €25m) to the new National Digital Research Centre, which will be located in the former Media Lab Europe building. Media Lab Europe closed in 2005 with the loss of 60 jobs after some €35m of Government money was pumped into it.
The new National Digital Research Centre will be launched early next year to undertake research in the digital content industry, which has been identified as a high-growth, value-added industry for Ireland.
By John Kennedy