Previous governmental 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. Both initiatives have concluded, in 2014 and 2011 respectively.
During the planning of the Galway-Mayo Gas pipeline by Bord Gais Eireann (BGÉ) in 2005 the then Department of Communications, Marine & Natural Resources funded the installation of a telecommunications duct alongside the new gas pipeline. This duct delivers limited dark fibre services to customers on completed sections of the fibre between Coolturk (Co. Mayo) and Ballymoneen (Co. Galway). Construction took place between 2006 and 2008.
The Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) are telecoms ducting and fibre optic networks laid in metropolitan areas around Ireland. The MANs are independently managed, maintained and operated for the State by a Management Services Entity (MSE) and are used to provide a variety of services.
A decision to deliver a 100Mbps broadband service to all secondary level schools was announced by Government in February of 2012. All 780+ post primary schools in Ireland now have access to 100Mbps high speed broadband.
The Government's current broadband initiative, the National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. Today 7 out of 10 of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland have access to high speed broadband. By the end of this year that number will rise to nearly 8 out of 10 premises and by 2020, 9 out of 10 premises or 90% of premises will have access to a high speed broadband connection.
According to a recent Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) report, which ranks EU member states according to a variety of digital markers, Ireland is in the high performing cluster of EU countries, ranking 8th place overall out of 28.