Broadband is "as vital a utility as electricity", so why is there a delay in completing the National

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Earlier this week the Department of Communications, Energy and National Resources confirmed that the implementation of the National Broadband Plan will be delayed and may not be completed until at least 2022. This is ten years after the initial launch and two years later than promised. 

The National Broadband Plan was described by outgoing Minister Alex White as "a defining moment for telecommunications in Ireland". The aim of the plan is to ensure that every citizen in Ireland has access to quality high speed broadband services. 

The message from Alex White to the December 2015 version of the National Broadband Plan: Ireland's Broadband Intervention Strategy states:

"The history of broadband in Ireland has been mixed and the NBP recognises for the first time that quality broadband is a utility that is just as important as electricity." He continued to say "This Government recognises that effective broadband connectivity is vital to social inclusion and economic growth at local and national levels."

The delay in the bidding process means that those in areas without access to quality broadband will go without a vital utility until at least 2022. That amounts to 1.8 million citizens.

Who does this impact?

The profile of the area to be addressed by the strategy is clear. 

  • 96% of national land mass
  • 100,000km of road network
  • Over 757,000 postal addresses
  • 1.8 million citizens (38% of the national population)
  • 688,000 members of active labour force (38% of national total)
  • 214,000 white collar employees (34% of national total)
  • 89% of farm employment (139,000 farmers nationally)
  • 80,266 farms (94% of national total of farms)
  • 63,440 non-farm businesses (B&Bs, shops, doctors, etc)
  • 62,266 SMEs, primarily micro
  • 1,522 schools (40% of total)
  • 601 business parks (7% of national total)

While Ireland had its own target of 2020, this was part of a bigger picture. The EU Digital Agenda laid out the aim to achieve universal access to broadband with speeds of 30Mbps for all EU citizens by 2020. It had been hoped that by that time 50% of citizens would be subscribing to speeds of 100Mbps. 

Is your area waiting for the intervention of the National Broadband Plan? Email us your experience to businessandtech(at)newstalk(dot)com.

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