Irish Govt may invest €200m to make superfast broadband universal

30 Aug 2012

Ireland’s Government may make a long overdue investment in broadband infrastructure to the tune of €200m to ensure regional towns and districts get the same quality broadband as the country’s cities, it has been reported.

According to the Irish Times this morning the State may be prepared to invest €200m to ensure that regional areas including towns, villages and outlying districts receive similar quality broadband to Ireland’s cities and large towns.

At 11am today Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte TD will unveil “Delivering a Connected Society – A National Broadband Plan for Ireland”. The plan is the Government’s own and follows a process that involved a Next Generation Taskforce involving the CEOs of the major telecoms companies in Ireland and which made its report in May.

According to industry more than 50pc of Ireland’s population will have access to at least 70Mbps broadband by 2015, suggesting a damaging digital divide that could affect the ability of small firms in regional districts from competing for business on a global level, stunting their ability to generate employment.

It has been recognised in other countries across Europe that the gap-funded model whereby the State invests where it is deemed commercially unviable for operators to invest is the model that works.

For example, Northern Ireland is now the most fibre-dense region in Europe with 90pc of premises capable of receiving up to 80Mbps of broadband as a result of such a model.

The new plan will also include arrangements to reduce the burden of red tape for commercial investors in next generation broadband infrastructure.

UPDATE: The National Broadband Plan was revealed on Thursday by Minister Pat Rabbitte, laying out targets to provide at least 30Mbps broadband to every home and business in Ireland by 2015.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years