National Broadband Plan: A timeline

Scheme is expected to take between three and five years to complete

Optic fibre computer cable. Photograph: Andy Brown/Hemera/Getty

Optic fibre computer cable. Photograph: Andy Brown/Hemera/Getty

 

The National Broadband Plan, first announced in 2012, has been dogged by a number of issues over the years. The scheme is expected to take between three and five years to complete and involve a State subsidy of up to €600 million. Below are some of the key dates in the saga. Click on dates for more content.

August 30th, 2012 - Pat Rabbitte: ’The rural electrification of the 21st century’

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte unveiled Delivering a Connected Society - A National Broadband Plan for Ireland in Croke Park. He called it “the rural electrification of the 21st Century”.

Mr Rabbitte said that by 2015, 70-100Mbps should be available for at least 50 per cent of the population, 40Mbps to at least a further 20 per cent and a minimum of 30Mbps available to all.

He said then-taoiseach Enda Kenny gave him a commitment that the State would provide funding of €200 million, along with matching investment from private companies.

February 1st, 2013: Tenders for experts announced

Mr Rabbitte announced his department had put out a tender for experts to assist in the design, planning and procurement of a State-led investment in high speed broadband.

April 25th, 2014: Rolls Royce option

The Government set aside between €335 million and €512 million to develop a fibre-powered infrastructure that would give 900,000 homes and businesses access to high-speed connectivity.

The Minister declined to give an exact time frame, but he indicated it would take at least three years to complete.

Although these proposals were significantly more expensive than originally anticipated under the National Broadband Plan (NBP), this was justified by the need to ensure compliance with EU guidelines.

Mr Rabbitte said he was “not hung up” on speed capabilities but that his department had gone for “the Rolls Royce option” to ensure adequate connectivity.

November 24th, 2014: Alex White maps out access

Minster for Communications Alex White published national and county maps online that identified homes, businesses and schools where commercial providers would deliver high-speed broadband access by the end of 2016.

July 15th, 2015: And publishes a draft strategy

Mr White published a draft strategy building on plans to connect all areas where the commercial sector was unwilling to invest.

He said: “In 2010, before this Government came to office, high speed broadband was only available to 300,000 homes in Ireland. That figure has grown to well over a million homes, with the potential for commercial operators to deliver high speed services to as many as 1.9 million premises.

“Under the intervention strategy I’m publishing today, we expect that 85 per cent of the premises in Ireland will have access to high speed broadband in 2018, increasing to 100 per cent by 2020,” he added.

December 22nd, 2015: Eir fibre proposal rejected

The Department of Communications controversially rejected a proposal by Eir to supply fibre broadband to 300,000 homes.

Mr White announced intentions to continue with the original Government strategy to supply State-subsidised broadband to 757,000 homes in rural Ireland by 2020.

Estimates for the potential cost of the scheme ranged from €500 million to €1 billion, making it the single largest rural project undertaken since electrification in the 1950s.

April 5th, 2017: Not quite the showpiece

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten, announced the Government made a deal with Eir that committed the company to connecting 300,000 homes and businesses over the next two years.

The Department also updated its broadband programme to take into account the failures of private operators to deliver on previous commitments to provide broadband to almost 100,000 homes and businesses.

The scheme now covered about half a million homes, rather than the nearly 800,000 previously intended.

The Minister updated the broadband map to add 84,500 premises to the State Intervention Area, as a result of commercial investment that did not materialise.

The map meant the procurement process could, with some certainty, provide tenders.

July 4th, 2017: Naughton signals delay

Mr Naughten signals the National Broadband Plan, first announced in 2012, is delayed by at least a year.

He says he doesn’t expect the first homes to be connected until after Eir have finished a separate project - to connect 300,000 rural homes - that will take until the end of 2018.