Government wants to roll out National Broadband Plan in five years, not seven

28 May 2020899 Views

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Minister Richard Bruton has tasked officials with seeing whether the €3bn National Broadband Plan could be rolled out faster than originally planned.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton, TD, said his department is looking into whether it’s possible to roll out the National Broadband Plan (NBP) ahead of schedule. Department officials have been tasked with seeing if it could be completed within five years, instead of seven.

“People can see the value of things like e-health, being able to be connected wherever you are living, of having the opportunity of remote working,” Bruton said in the Dáil yesterday (27 May), according to RTÉ.

“The target is to try to from the second half of next year to try to accelerate the roll-out.”

The €3bn NBP contract was signed in November last year by the Government and National Broadband Ireland (NBI), a consortium led by US-based private investment firm Granahan McCourt and Irish-American businessman David McCourt.

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When the contract ends in 25 years, NBI will retain ownership of the network. The end goal is to connect 1.1m people across the country with high-speed broadband in 540,000 homes, schools, businesses and farms where commercial operators will not deliver connectivity.

Under the existing NBP, it is projected that one-quarter of targeted premises will be connected by the end of 2021. This is set to increase to 40pc by the end of 2022 and then to 95pc five years after the initiative begins.

Earlier today (28 May), Kilkenny-headquartered telecoms firm Entegro announced it had been chosen to survey and design the NBP network. Work on the NBP has already begun in Carlow and will soon start in Tipperary. On the back of this news, Entegro said it plans to hire 50 new engineers, joining 50 positions announced by the company last October.

The company’s managing director, Jim Doyle, compared the NBP to the “rural electrification of Ireland”.

“There is not one home, family, business or community in rural Ireland that will not benefit from being connected to this fibre network,” Doyle said.

Colm Gorey is a senior journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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