This week The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White, TD published online national and county maps that identify the homes, businesses and schools where commercial providers will deliver high-speed broadband access by the end of 2016.Minister White said that the State would invest in all the remaining areas to ensure that every home, school and business in Ireland has access to high-speed broadband, regardless of where it is located.
The maps, which allow the public to identify their own premises to see whether their high-speed broadband will be provided by a commercial operator or through State intervention, can be accessed at www.broadband.gov.ie. The website also carries county-by-county statistics on planned broadband coverage.
A consultation on the content of the maps is open until 12th February 2015. This will ensure that they accurately reflect the extent of planned state investment in high-speed broadband infrastructure and is necessary to ensure that the State intervention meets the EU guidelines on State Aid. The map shows that:
- There are around 2.3 million premises in the Republic of Ireland.
- The commercial telecoms industry intends to invest to deliver high-speed broadband access to 1.6 million homes and businesses – 68% of the premises in the state – by the end of 2016.
- The remaining 600,000 homes and 100,000 businesses will require direct State intervention to provide high-speed broadband access.
- The direct State intervention will be a huge infrastructural programme akin to rural electrification in the last century.
The delivery of high quality broadband is vital for both urban and rural Ireland and will ensure access to information, culture, ideas, social interaction and opportunities.
Access to highspeed broadband is also vital for job creation, particularly in rural areas. With this investment we will help attract businesses and encourage entrepreneurship. Broadband can make physical location for a business less relevant and can create a more even playing field for businesses in Dublin and those in the West.
Furthermore, with highspeed broadband working from home becomes a viable option which can help revitalise rural communities.
In 2015 the Minister and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources will carry out a number of tasks to progress this ambitious plan including:
- Deciding on the most appropriate governance and ownership model for the new infrastructure
- Judging whether it would be better built by one contractor or a number of contractors
- Exploring the funding options
- Analysing the impact on the broader telecommunications market, and
- Preparing a submission to the European Commission on the state aid aspects of the plan.