Some €480k in grant aid has been offered to broadband service providers to support the first 16 towns to be approved for the Group Broadband Scheme (GBS), it emerged this morning.
According to the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, more than 200 towns and some 150 rural areas applied for support under the GBS.
The first 16 approved projects represents an overall investment of more than €1m and will cover 27 communities with an overall population of 20,000 people.
The county and GBS was developed to encourage service providers to target rural and low-population areas that were unlikely to get broadband services. It is designed to promote investment in broadband access infrastructure in these regions by contributing grant aid of up to 55pc of the infrastructure costs.
Some €4m has been earmarked for the second phase of this initiative, out of a total multi-annual budget of €25m. The County and GBS is co-funded by the e-commerce and communications measures of the Border, Midlands and Western and Southern and Eastern Regional Operational Programmes of the National Development Plan 2000-2006.
The approved projects include: Quin Village, Co Clare; Cois Fharraige Gaelteacht, Co Galway; Tarbet, Co Kerry; Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim; Caherconlish, Co Limerick; Cappamore, Co Limerick; Aghamore, Tooreen and Kilkelly, Co Mayo; Ballyheane, Co Mayo; Balla, Co Mayo; Charlestown, Co Mayo; Croagh Patrick (South Clew Bay), Co Mayo; Crossmolina and Ardagh Co Mayo; Ballyvary and Straide, Co Mayo; Athboy, Co Meath; Longwood, Co Meath; and Newport, Co Tipperary.
“Some 130 applications have been received by my department, which cover more than 200 towns and villages and another 150 rural areas,” said Communications Minister Noel Dempsey TD. “More than 300,000 people live in the areas covered by these rural broadband proposals.”
By John Kennedy