Rural areas around Carrigaline inare set to be the first to benefit from the long-awaited National Broadband Plan ( ) before the end of the year.
The town, in the constituency of Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Foreign Affairs Minister, and Public Expenditure Minister , is likely to see the first fibre-to-the-home connections expected around December this year, Communications Minister said.
The long-mooted, first announced in 2012 under the Fine Gael-Labour coalition, has been beset by a number of false starts and acrimony in the eight years since promising to provide broadband to some 540,000 homes and businesses in hard-to-reach areas.
The ballooning costs of the plan, to €3bn, when the contract was awarded to National Broadband Ireland (), an entity set up by US firm Granahan McCourt, came in for vociferous criticism when announced over nine months ago.
An outline for the plan was published last month, but again came in for severe criticism with large elements of it redacted for commercial reasons.
It will cost some €3bn over 25 years and is the biggest private contract ever tendered out by the State.
According to Mr Ryan, Carrigaline is first in line to benefit, with thenetwork offering users "a high-speed broadband service with a minimum download speed of 500Mbps from the outset".
He said: "This represents an increase from the 150Mbps committed to under the Contract. The deployment plan forecasts premises passed in all counties within the first two years and over 90% of premises in the State having access to high-speed broadband within the next four years."
Design work is complete or ongoing in target townlands across 21 counties and "steady progress is being made" with over 91,000 premises surveyed to date, he said.
"Laying fibre should commence shortly with the first fibre to the home connections expected around December this year in," Mr Ryan said.