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 enterprise, employment, e-Health, e-Education, smart farming, regional development and tourism. 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 at its meeting on 7 May.
The Government decision means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to National Broadband Ireland, subject to the contract close, including the finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after that.
Roll out of the National Broadband Plan State intervention to the approximately 44,000 businesses in the intervention area will take place against the backdrop of a significant and rapid transformation in the structure of global and national economies. Technology and digitisation are developing rapidly and are expected to radically change many jobs, enterprises and even entire sectors.
A growing number of businesses and industries, particularly digitally intensive enterprises, will need Gigabit connectivity to create new applications and business models to produce, distribute and sell their goods and services more competitively. From manufacturing systems to ordering and delivery processes, from data storage and analytics to internal and external communications, their future competitiveness requires cost-effective access to such connectivity. The State intervention will provide this connectivity to businesses from day one of connection.
One of the key elements of the NBP Intervention Strategy is a requirement to put forward specific speeds and connection times to meet the needs of the business community. While the initial basic product offered is 150 megabits per second, 1 Gigabit per second is available for businesses from day one of the connection, with a roadmap for higher speeds over the term of the contract.
Large service providers and multinationals are moving businesses towards a more cloud based office where data is stored and backed up centrally on a cloud based server. The remote worker will need to be able to efficiently access the cloud based office, use the office applications and upload their own content quickly and easily. In addition, high upload performance increases the usability of order placement services, secure online banking, backing up and archiving of activities and uploading content for sharing or resale. However, critical to all users is certainty of availability similar to the need to have confidence of supply of power. When working from home or running a business, it is essential that your broadband service is constantly available and where issues arise such issues are resolved quickly.
The predominantly fibre solution proposed by the Preferred Bidder in the NBP will facilitate and support these types of business services and the network to be built will provide that stability, confidence and assurance to all businesses in the Intervention Area.