North Cork Fine Gael Councillor John Paul O’Shea has welcomed the government’s appointment of a preferred bidder to the National Broadband Plan (NBP). Cllr. O’Shea described the NBP as the largest investment in rural Ireland since rural electrification and is just as important to the future as electricity was then.
“This is about equal access to services and opportunities for everyone, no matter where they live or work,” he said. “It will ensure that every home, farm and business – no matter how rural or remote – has access to high speed broadband.”
Cllr. O’Shea said the opportunities that broadband will bring for the future is huge: flexible and remote working, smart health with online GP and nursing services and medical monitoring, cloud-based services and connected devices, smart farming, digital learning, and reliable electronic payments and bookings. Ireland will be the first country in the world to ensure that those in rural areas have the same digital opportunities as those in urban areas.
NBP will deliver very high-specification broadband supply in line with urban and international trends. Speeds will start from 150mb/s, rising to 500mb/s in year 10 for residential users and much higher speeds available for businesses. It will impact approximately 540,000 premises (plus any new premises to be built over the period), including 56,000 farms (68% of national total of farms), 44,000 non-farm businesses and 674 schools. In total it will impact 1.1 million people and address 96% of Ireland’s land mass.
The preferred bidder, National Broadband Ireland, has put together a team with significant Ireland experience in large telecoms projects, as well as substantial international industry experience, to deliver the proposal. The procurement process has determined that the maximum possible cost to the state will be €3 billion over 25 years. This includes €545 million for conditional and contingent subsidy and includes €354 million in VAT, which will be paid to the Revenue Commissioners as the subsidy is spent.
Cllr. O’Shea added: “Once the contracts are signed, deployment of the network will commence immediately – over 90% of premises in the State will have access to high-speed broadband within the next four years. Nearly 300 broadband connection points (BCPs) will be provided in Year 1, acting as hotspots providing free Wi-Fi in local communities supporting digital work hubs in every county.
“The provision of the fibre network will take place in conjunction with these BCPs, with 120,000 premises covered by Year 2, and 70,000-100,000 premises each year thereafter. For rural Ireland, including the Cork North West region, the National Broadband Plan is a hugely significant project and will bring with it enormous potential in terms of economic development, as well as making it easier for people to work remotely and use Internet services in a seamless way.”