Ireland backs a national fibre roll-out worth €3bn

Ireland backs a national fibre roll out with almost €3bn of state aid

25 November 2019 | Antony Savvas

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An investment firm that specialises in digital communications is to start deploying the Irish network after the European Commission cleared the deal.

National Broadband Ireland (NBI), which was established by investment firm Granahan McCourt, has signed a deal with the Irish government to deliver the country’s National Broadband Plan (NBP).

The project aims to end the digital divide between Ireland’s urban and rural communities, with it promising to provide “equal opportunities for every home, farm and business in Ireland”.

“Once the plan is completed 100% of the population will have access to a modern and reliable broadband network, capable of supporting our current and future generations,” said NBI.

Granahan McCourt says it has previously built 24 national telecom networks across Ireland, Europe, US and Central America and deployed over 120,000km of fibre across 56 projects, but the new Irish project is the biggest yet.

The scheme will involve laying 146,000km of fibre cable to connect every one of the 537,000 premises in the project’s roll-out area. “The full deployment across 96% of Ireland’s land mass is recognised as one of the most ambitious telecom infrastructure projects globally.” NBI said.

Granahan McCourt founder and NBI chairman David McCourt (pictured), said: “The National Broadband Plan is a momentous infrastructure project to empower and rejuvenate rural Ireland, which – until now – has remained significantly underserved by high speed connectivity.

“We want to see residents and businesses thriving in rural parts of the country and ensure they have a bright and sustainable future, with the same opportunities as those in urban areas.”

The deal comes after the European Commission approved €2.6bn of Irish state aid for the plan. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of the body’s competition policy, said: “The National Broadband Plan in Ireland is expected to address the significant digital divide between urban and rural areas in Ireland, enabling Irish consumers and businesses to benefit from the full potential of digital growth.”

Ireland prime minister Leo Varadkar said: “Broadband will be the biggest investment in rural Ireland ever. We can have more people working from home, a better work-life balance, fewer car journeys and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. We can connect better with the world, with family members, with business, with new ideas and new ways of doing things.”