The National Broadband Plan has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 76% of the 2.4 million premises in Ireland can access high speed broadband.
On 19 November, the Government signed the contract with National Broadband Ireland (NBI) to provide access to high speed broadband to the 1.1 million people living and working in 537,537 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms and 695 schools, where commercial operators will not commit to deliver the service.
The solution provided by NBI will meet and in some cases exceed, the parameters of the Intervention Strategy and European targets. The NBP will contribute to the EU strategic objectives set out in the Digital Agenda for Europe and in the Communication "Towards a European Gigabit Society".
National Broadband Ireland will set up a wholesale open access company dedicated to the rollout of a predominantly fibre to the premises (FTTP) network in the Intervention Area, which will be capable of delivering a future-proofed high speed broadband network, initially providing services of 150Mbps to the majority of homes and up to 1Gbps to heavy data users and Small and Medium size Enterprises.
Work by NBI will begin immediately and over 90% of premises in the State will have access to high speed broadband within the next four years.
Approximately 300 community centres, schools, library hubs and local sports halls across every county in Ireland will be connected to high speed broadband during 2020, to enable communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband.
By the end of 2021, NBI plans to pass approximately 115,000 premises. Approximately 70,000-100,000 premises will be passed each year thereafter, with the final premises to be completed in 2026.
Previous government initiatives to deliver or improve broadband service in the State include the National Broadband Scheme (NBS), the Rural Broadband Scheme (RBS), the Galway-Mayo Telecoms Duct, the Metropolitan Area Networks and the Schools 100Mbps Project.
The National and Rural Broadband Schemes were designed to deliver basic, affordable broadband to target areas across the country where premises were unable to obtain a service from a commercial operator. These initiatives were concluded in 2014 and 2011, respectively.
The NBP State intervention network, when complete, will push Ireland to the forefront of connectivity, both on a European and an international level.