Rural group demands broadband prioritisation

Irish Rural Link has demanded that the Government prioritise fibre-optic broadband to hundreds of thousands of homes and provide exact figures as to the funding that will be required.

The organisation made its comments after the Department of Communications, Energy, and Natural Resources outlined some aspects of its 2015 Budget allocation, which included a pledge to advance the National Broadband Plan.

In a statement, the Department said that delivering high-speed broadband of at least 30mbp to every citizen, business and community in Ireland was “a top priority” for Government.

It said the commercial sector was due to deliver high-speed services to at least 1.6m premises in Ireland by mid-2016, while Environment Minister Alex White said the Government was preparing to provide high-speed broadband infrastructure to homes and businesses which were otherwise unlikely to be served by providers.

“Over the coming weeks, we will publish detailed maps which will show the areas where commercial providers are successfully in place or plan to provide services — and those where state intervention is required,” he said. However, James Claffey, media officer with Irish Rural Link, said approximately 600,000 homes had yet to receive fibre-optic broadband and that Government needed to prioritise that, as it could create as many as 10,000 jobs by allowing people work from home. He said Irish Rural Link wanted to see “exact figures” and added: “It is an issue that has been dragging on for years.”

The Department also revealed that the allocation for the Better Energy Programme will total some €47m next year, with an energy saving of over 460GWh and supporting 2,900 jobs.

Elsewhere, €10m has been allocated to ocean energy research, development and demonstration, while an additional €3m has been provided for the Tellus Project, which will map and collect environmental data on soils, water and rocks around Ireland, and will be extended from the Border and Midland counties.


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