The Government has promised that every building in Ireland will have high speed broadband by 2020.
The Communications Minister Alex White today published national and county maps identifying where commercial providers will deliver service by the end of 2016.
Depressing map: the blue parts are the bits of Ireland that will have commercial broadband by 2016. (Amber is later.) pic.twitter.com/JJMGKInR6S— Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) November 24, 2014
He says the State will still have to intervene directly to provide high speed broadband to at least 600,000 homes and 100,000 businesses - and this will be done by the end of the decade.
Minister White says everyone in Ireland, regardless of where they live should have equal access to the internet.
Nova Broadband CEO Dave Mc Donald pointed out that the cost of the scheme will ultimately be subsidised by those who will never use it.
“It is far more expensive to deliver broadband services in a rural setting than an urban setting,” he said.
“What the Government is proposing to do is to provide 100% coverage in non-commercial areas. The downside of this for the taxpayer is that someone living in an apartment in a city, where it might cost €100 to install a broadband connection, will subsidise someone living on the side of a mountain, where it might cost €10,000 to install the connection, as the State proposes that everyone pays the same.
“The difference will have to come from central Exchequer funds, so it amount to a public tax burden ultimately.
“Having said that, as far as the proposed network goes, we would cautiously welcome a network build-out - as long as the network is opened to all operators to provide services, in a truly open way.”
UPC welcomed the launch of the Government’s public consultation on its proposed National Broadband Plan.
A UPC spokesperson said: “We are fully supportive of the Government’s objective to ensure that those parts of Ireland which currently do not have access to high speed broadband will be able to receive speeds of at least 30 Mbps.
“The National Broadband Plan and related development programmes provide the building blocks for further progress which will complement the multi-million euro investments that have been or are being made by the private sector.
“The challenge for Ireland will be to ensure that we close any remaining gaps with the rest of Europe in order to maximise the economic and social benefits from our digital future. Broadband and the uptake of digital services for buying, selling and participating in society, enhance our lives and must involve everyone.”
Eircom also welcomed today’s announcement.
"We fully support the Government in moving quickly to complete this project as soon as is feasible," a company statement read.
"Eircom believes that a fixed line fibre technology connected to every home and business should be the lead infrastructure to serve customers identified through this mapping exercise.
"This will ensure that the investment made by the Government will be future proofed, support the growth in data demands and ensure the best user experience for those customers within the intervention footprint.
"Through this initiative, industry and Government have an opportunity to remove any digital divide between urban and rural Ireland and to provide a platform for economic and social transformation across the whole country."