Naughten: ‘Broadband Plan to eclipse Rural Electrification’

Up to 7,500 Roscommon premises to gain

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten has announced that an additional 300,000 premises across Ireland and up to 7,500 in Co. Roscommon will be able to access high-speed broadband within 90 weeks. The premises were previously part of the State Intervention Area but will now be provided by Eir following a deal between the Government and the firm.

  Speaking at a National Broadband Plan workshop in Ballinasloe on Tuesday, Minister Naughten said: “Today is a good day for rural Ireland. Since I became Minister and over the next 90 weeks we’re going to be able to guarantee that one in four premises in Ireland will have access to high-speed broadband. That’s on top of the 54% that already had high-speed broadband.

  “With the finalisation of the Broadband map one of the key uncertainties in the procurement process has now been removed and will allow us to move closer to our goal of ensuring all premises in Ireland will have access to high-speed broadband.”

  In 2016, only 52% of premises in Ireland had access to high-speed broadband. Following this latest development, it is believed that 77% of premises will have access by the end of 2018 and the majority of the remaining premises will have access by the end of 2020.

  The Minister added that Eir would be held to account if goals weren’t reached, however: “If Eir fail to deliver on that we have penalties built into the contract where they will be penalised for failing to meet those targets over the next 90 weeks. If they do miss a particular target and if a premises is not included, it will come back into the intervention area under the National Broadband Plan.”

  Minister Naughten compared the plan to the Rural Electrification Scheme of the 1940s: “This will transform rural Ireland to a far greater extent than rural electrification did in the last century because the potential in relation to this is enormous. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see foreign direct investment looking at an opportunity to develop services, particularly health services, in rural Ireland for older people on foot of the investment that is now taking place.”

  He called on broadband officers, county managers and chief executives present at the workshop to play a vital role in the roll-out of the broadband plan.

  He said: “If you work with me and work along this objective to make Ireland the most telecoms-friendly country in the world, I’ll work with you. I’ll make sure that whatever doors are closed are opened and that the red carpet is rolled out to deliver this. I’m determined, alongside you, to transform Ireland.”