Following the publication of the National Broadband Plan, the Minister for Communications Alex White TD said he is confident telecoms operators will step up to the plate in terms of competing to deliver high-speed services.
The National Broadband Plan, which will allow telcos to compete for either all or some of three zones across Ireland divided by population, was published by the Minister yesterday.
The plan – priced at between €300m to €500m – will fund operators to compete to deliver a guaranteed minimum of 30mbps download speeds and 6mbps upload speeds with 99.95pc uptime.
However, failure to achieve these standards will mean withholding of funds.
The plan forms the Irish State’s intervention into a situation where large tracts of the country are not served with commercial broadband, leaving 600,000 homes and 100,000 businesses on the wrong side of the digital divide.
The tendering process will begin in December and the first rollout of broadband will begin in earnest in mid-2016. Contracts will be awarded in terms of value for money and future-proofing the service to keep it in step with urban services.
By 2018, Minister White projects that 85pc of the population of Ireland will have minimum speeds of 30mbps.
By 2020, this will be 100pc of the population.
Scaling up Ireland’s broadband ambitions
“We’ll see the value of this when everybody in this country has high-quality broadband — they will be able to see how important it was that we used these months to ensure that the technical work was done,” Minister White said in relation to the monumental enterprise that went into developing the plan.
“An enormous amount of work was led by my department and I’m very proud of the work that has been done and continues to be done. Also, with the private sector, they are helping us enormously in terms of their insights and what they are providing.
“It will pay off. People would like to have their broadband yesterday, I understand that. What I want to do is deliver it in a way that it would be the best possible service that will stand up to any international comparison.”
White pointed to the enormous increase in private sector investment in broadband. There has been an accelerated rollout of fibre by Eircom, which has committed to bringing fibre to 1.9m premises by 2020; UPC, which can provide fibre to more than 750,000 homes, as well as the arrival of SIRO, a joint venture between Vodafone and ESB, which plans to bring speeds of between 200mbps and 1gbps to 500,000 premises in 50 towns.
“In fact, we’ve been able to scale up our ambition across the country in relation to what we propose to do and how and do it quickly.
“I am very confident that the private sector bodies will deliver and step up to the mark,” White said.