The Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of high speed, quality, reliable broadband to ensure that citizens across Ireland can participate in remote working, on-line schooling, shopping, critical video calls, both business related and social, and a range of other online activities. A combination of commercial investment and the State led intervention will ensure access to high speed broadband in every part of the country and no premises will be left behind, no matter how remote. Of the 2.4 million premises across Ireland, 77% of premises now have access to high-speed broadband of more than 30 Mbps. National Broadband Ireland will address the remaining premises through the National Broadband Plan State intervention.
A number of commercial operators have also announced further investment plans in high-speed broadband. Eir has said it will roll out fibre to a further 1.4 million premises, bringing its fibre deployment to some 1.8 million premises. SIRO is currently completing the first phase of its fibre deployment which will see 375,000 premises passed with gigabit services. Virgin Media is offering 250Mbps as a standard offering with higher speeds available to many of its customers across more than 1 million premises. Many other network operators and telecom service providers across the State also continue to invest in their networks.
The Remote Working Strategy was published in January by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to ensure that remote working is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economic, social and environmental benefits. The Programme for Government recognises that the National Broadband Plan will be a key enabler to such policies and has committed to seek to accelerate its roll out. My Department continues to explore the potential to accelerate the roll out with National Broadband Ireland.