Communications Minister Dermot Ahern TD has revealed that some €8m is to be invested in rolling out 40km of fibre cable in Cavan, Monaghan and Louth. The funding brings to €300m the amount spent on broadband by the Irish Government since 1996.
The new border rollout involves bringing broadband to Cavan, Kingscourt, Monaghan and Carrickmacross with some 22km of broadband being rolled out in Cavan and Monaghan as well as major broadband rings circling Drogheda and Dundalk involving an investment of €4m.
Ahern also revealed that some 50,000 fibre kilometres of internet cable – enough to go around the earth and still have some left over – has been or is about to be installed in towns from Donegal to Cork under the 19 towns project . The project, 90pc grant aided by the Government under the National Development Plan 2000-2006, is co-funded by the EU under the European Regional Development Fund.
Once deployed, the various metropolitan area networks (MANs) will be required to carry all known future telecom and internet requirements. One fibre pair is understood to have the capacity to carry all of today’s voice and data traffic in and out of Ireland.
In Cavan and Monaghan the broadband reach will include all major public facilities, industrial estates and educational institutions. In Monaghan, it will involve the TEK centre which boasts companies such as Datacare, CBM Limited, WebWorks, D20 Ireland, Emode, Dairystock.com, Monaghan County Enterprise Board and Monaghan County Enterprise Fund. The centre has state-of-the-art communications links with Armagh and is part of a project to develop 150 new ICT jobs in the region in the coming two years.
The Minister commented: “For too long towns such as Kingscourt, Carrickmacross, Cavan and Monaghan have had to battle against their so-called peripheral status and with the fact that, in many instances, their natural hinterland was cut off as a result of the Border. Added to that was the campaign of violence which hindered inward investment and the growth of commerce. Now, their time has come and as a Government we are only too pleased to be able to provide the infrastructure to allow the towns continue to grow and expand.
“These metro rings send a clear signal to any investor that these towns are at the cutting edge in terms of internet access and willingness to embrace the information economy. The widespread availability of open-access, affordable, always-on broadband infrastructure and services for businesses and citizens is a priority for the Government and my Department. A modern, high-speed, low-cost communications and broadband network is an essential enabler of economic activity and social inclusion,” he added.
By John Kennedy