Up to 300,000 homes and business premises are to get access to high-speed broadband within 90 weeks, the Government announced today, writes political editor Daniel McConnell.
Communications Minister Denis Naughten (pictured) today announced details of an agreement between the Government and eir, which will see broadband delivered to 300,575 premises around the country by December 2018.
Under the plans announced, each of the properties will receive the minimum download speeds of 30 megabits per second and 6 megabits per second of uploads speeds.
eir’s proposal is to meet this requirement involves bringing fibre to 90% of the homes.
These premises were previously part of the National Broadband Plan but will now be fast tracked under his new scheme.
As a result, this reduces the number of homes targeted by the NBP to 542,000.
This number includes an additional 84,500 premises, which Minister Naughten has added into the State Intervention Area.
Some 990,000 citizens live within the State Intervention Area.
This figure is made up of more than 52,000 farms, 47,000 SMEs, 437 schools and 310 business parks.
In 2016, only 52% of premises had access to High-Speed Broadband. This development will bring that figure to 77% by the end of 2018. The Government says the majority of the remaining premises will have access by the end of 2020.
Speaking today, Minister Naughten said, “Today is a good day for rural Ireland. The agreement that I have signed with eir means one house every minute of every working day will get fibre to the door high-speed quality broadband – that’s an extra 500 houses every day.”
When discussing details of the contract between the Government and eir, Minister Denis Naughten expressly stated that eir will face penalties if they fail to deliver.
But some have greeted the news with cautious scepticism.
Donegal TD Thomas Pringle said: “Delays of up to a decade can be expected if the Government’s deal with eir goes ahead.
“That’s because the Government is giving eir the cream of the crop in terms of houses with easier accessibility which the Government was initially taking on as part of the plan.
“Most of Donegal’s houses are part of the remaining 500,000 homes to be covered by the Government’s Plan but questions are being raised as to whether companies will want to be left with these most challenging homes in terms of rolling out fibre broadband.
“The only way to get companies to take on the most difficult houses is if the Government increases its subsidies to assist them. What this means in terms of cost raises many questions the Minister needs to answer.”