Rural broadband passed around the houses

11 May 2016

Last month, we discovered that the rollout of the National Broadband Plan was set to be delayed. Now that management of the plan has been moved to a different Government department, will anything change?

The news last month that the €275m National Broadband Plan was struggling to get across the line on time was not entirely surprising, however, it was frustrating for many.

The plan, aimed at connecting 1.8m citizens to a minimum of 30Mbps by a 2020 deadline, has yet to be rolled out, with the new start date of 2017 meaning a potential two-year delay to that deadline.

“Building the network in the intervention area remains a priority and we are seeking the fastest possible deployment,” the Department of Communications told when queried on the subject.

Now, though, it’s no longer that department’s problem. Under the newly patched together Government, responsibility for the broadband strategy has been shifted across to the Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht.

This is a newly put together department and it’s unclear if the team working on the delayed programme will be shifted across, too.

In a statement to The Irish Times, a Government spokesperson said: “The two departments will be working together to give effect to the relevant commitments in the Programme for Government, and the Taoiseach’s speech on Friday evening in which he nominated members of the Government.”

The original plan had been to begin procurement by the middle of 2016 and bring broadband to 85pc of premises by 2018 and 100pc by 2020. Now, not so much.

Rural Ireland image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic