Full broadband coverage by mid-2010, pledges Ryan


The rollout of services under the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) will see 100 per cent coverage in Ireland by September 2010, the Government announced today.

The €223 million investment in the scheme will deliver broadband to areas where the market has failed to provide services, approximately 33 per cent of the country, and see the creation of 170 jobs, according to a Government statement.

It will allow around 223,000 more homes and businesses to connect to the always-on, high speed internet connections with an initial minimum download speed of 1.2 mbps.

The investment will come from a combination of Exchequer funds, EU co-financing and service provider 3.

Mobile operator 3 was announced as the preferred tenderer for the scheme in November, beating competition from BT Ireland, Eircom and the IFA/Motorola Consortium.

Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan said today’s announcement is a “boost” for the rural economy by creating employment.

He said: “Now businesses throughout the country can have ready access to the national and international markets.

"Quality of life will improve for rural residents and communities will be strengthened,” he added.

Fine Gael spokesman for communications Simon Coveney welcomed the announcement but expresssed scepticism over the rollout of rural broadband.

“Yet again the Minister is announcing the National Broadband Scheme this morning. For up to a year now he has been proclaiming the National Broadband Scheme as a solution for providing ubiquitous broadband across the country but doing nothing about it.

“While the principles of the National Broadband Scheme are welcome, the actual rollout of the Scheme still causes many concerns: We are already six months behind schedule as this contract was due to be signed in July 2008," Mr Coveney said.

"Minister Ryan had repeatedly promised that everyone in the country would have the capacity to receive broadband by the end of 2009. That time-scale has been pushed back by 12 months," he added.

Senator Alan Kelly, Labour Seanad spokesman on finance, said the scheme announced today was "underwhelming".

"What we need is next-generation broadband so that leading edge technology companies and Green energy companies can compete at international level. What we got was Ryan's hodge-podge of wireless, satellite and land line solutions and that will leave Ireland in the technological dark ages."