The purpose of the National Broadband Plan is to ensure that over 1.1 million of our citizens in rural Ireland have the same opportunity to participate in the digital society as citizens living in urban areas. The availability of ubiquitous high speed broadband will bring significant benefits in areas of e-Health, e-Education, smart farming, regional development and tourism. Under the National Broadband Plan (NBP), Ireland will become one of the first countries in the world to ensure that those in rural areas have the same digital opportunities as those in urban areas. The NBP will:
- Provide broadband to 540,000 homes, farms and businesses involving the laying of 146,000km of fibre
- Provide homes with high speeds of 150mbs per second increasing to 500mbs from year 10
- Ensure people in rural Ireland pay the same customer charges as people in urban Ireland
- Ensure a future proofed, high quality network, operated and maintained for 25 years.
The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of all 2.4 million Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of premises can access high speed broadband.
The State intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the network in the intervention area. I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and Government agreed to this. The company established to deliver the NBP is called National Broadband Ireland (NBI)
The Government Decision of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to NBI. This award is subject to the contract close, including finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after that.
In the first year of roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that between 7 and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations. The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises by the end of the second year, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.