First fibre reaches rural Irish family as €3bn broadband rolls out

First fibre reaches rural Irish family as €3bn broadband rolls out

Ireland rural.jpg

Ireland’s fibre-based €3 billion wholesale national rural broadband project has connected its first home — a family in Cork, close to the country’s south coast.

More connections are expected to follow today, said National Broadband Ireland (NBI). Customers will have their choice of retail provider — companies such as Eir, Sky or Vodafone — and should be able to get a minimum speed of 500Mbps and up to 1Gbps.

Eamon Ryan, Ireland’s minister for communications, said: “As a transformational project, the National Broadband Plan will connect over 1.1 million people across some 544,000 homes, business, farms and schools where commercial operators do not currently provide high-speed connectivity.”

NBI said it expects the number of premises under construction to be in excess of 130,000 by the end of 2021, with approximately 70,000 premises ready to be connected “at prices similar to those available in urban areas”.

NBI chairman David McCourt said: “Today’s announcement is an extremely proud day for NBI as we see the first homes experience the life-changing benefits that high-speed broadband provides. Our teams nationwide have conducted over 158,000 surveys and 120,000 designs of individual premises which are the critical first steps in this ambitious rollout.”

He added: “We started with boots on the ground in January 2020 and teams have scaled and mobilised to be in 26 counties across the country, working incredibly hard to roll out the national broadband network as quickly and effectively as possible, despite the extremely challenging environment caused by Covid-19.”

Micheál Martin, Ireland’s prime minister — or taoiseach — welcomed the first connections: “Access to a new high-speed fibre network will be transformative for communities and businesses across Ireland, especially in light of the pandemic and an increasing reliance on remote working and learning. The National Broadband Plan creates opportunity in every part of the country, giving people a better work life balance, and opening up digital technologies to homes, schools, and all sectors of the economy.”

The project is not restricted to purely rural areas. The Irish government has identified intervention areas where it deems broadband speeds to be inadequate. NBI says that designation applies to 13,429 premises in the Dublin area, including homes, farms, commercial businesses and schools — a total of 2% of all the premises in County Dublin. The area will see €48 million of investment through the National Broadband Plan, said NBI.


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