Next-gen broadband investment being advanced – Rabbitte

9 May 2011

Discussions with the telecoms industry around deploying next-generation broadband throughout Ireland under the programme for government’s NewEra proposals are being advanced, the Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte TD said this morning.

In tandem with the launch of the Rural Broadband Scheme, the minister announced he intends to push ahead with discussions with the telecommunications sector with a view to establishing a road map for the delivery of next-generation broadband in Ireland in line with the commitments in the Government’s National Recovery Programme.

Under the NewEra proposals in the Programme for Government, there is a commitment for NewEra to co-invest with the private sector and commercial semi-State sector to provide next-generation broadband to every home and business in the State. Consideration on how best to advance these proposals, for which Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd has responsibility, is being advanced.

“In order to accelerate the development of high-speed broadband, my colleague Minister O’Dowd and I intend to engage intensively with industry. To this end, we will be convening the first formal meeting of the Next Generation Broadband Task Force over the coming weeks.”

The taskforce comprises the CEOs of the major commercial telecommunications companies operating in the Irish market.

The discussions will focus on identifying private and State sector investment plans, removal of barriers to investment where appropriate and establishing appropriate targets and programmes with a view to ensuring Ireland delivers high-speed broadband to all areas in line with EU targets.

Can Ireland achieve EU’s 2020 broadband targets?

European Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes last year set a target that, by 2020, all homes and businesses will have a minimal standard of 30Mbps broadband while half of European households will achieve 100Mbps connectivity. Kroes also pointed out that for every Irish business that currently has between 7Mbps and 10Mbps broadband, there is a competitor in an Asian country with 10 times that speed and quality levels.

In their Programme for Government, Fine Gael and Labour have said they intend to co-invest with the private sector and semi-State sector to bring fibre to the kerb to 90pc of homes and businesses across Ireland.

The remaining 10pc will be provided with high-speed mobile or satellite broadband.

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