Ireland to invest €512 million in broadband

The Irish government plans to invest €512 million ($708.9 million) to ensure countrywide coverage of broadband and to address deficits of the service.

The government has agreed on a network build-out plan to deliver fibre connectivity to 1,100 villages and districts in rural Ireland, according to minister for communications Pat Rabbitte.

The plan is designed to ensure connectivity in areas considered economically unviable by commercial operators and excluded from their roll-out plans as a result.

“Large tracts of Ireland have a basic service that is not acceptable… This strategy not only supports balanced regional development, it also delivers a solution which is futureproofed and capable of responding to new technology developments and increasing demand,” said Rabbitte in a statement. “It will ensure that all businesses and citizens across Ireland can participate in and maximise the benefits of a digitally enabled economy and society.”

However, Rabbitte has admitted that despite the €500 million plan, there will still be some remote areas without access to the fibre networks.

At the same time, the Irish government also confirmed a new joint venture between the country’s Electricity Supply Board (ESB) and Vodafone, which will see the operator deploying a fibre network alongside ESB's nationwide electricity network.

The venture, which would deliver broadband connectivity to an estimated 450,000 homes and businesses, has been under negotiation since February this year.

A national fibre network roll-out would place Vodafone in a better position to compete with rival operators Eircom and UPC Ireland.

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