Eir to reveal first 100,000 homes for high-speed broadband
Move will affect areas that can be served by State’s €1.5bn National Broadband Plan
Trees were trimmed last week in Athboy, Co Meath, as a first step in the introduction of Eir’s high-speed broadband. Photograph: Chris Bellew/ Fennell Photography
Eir will today announce the locations of 100,000 homes in 200 rural communities to which it will roll out high-speed fibre broadband over the next year.
The homes are among a group of 300,000 that were originally due to be part of the State’s subsidised €1.5 billion National Broadband Plan (NBP), the tender for which is due to be awarded later this year.
Eir, however, intends to wire them up anyway, with fibre that can be run straight into buildings from a network strung across telegraph poles. It is aiming for a total fibre footprint of 1.9 million premises by 2020.
Its announcement today of the first of these rural locations means that, under State-aid rules, these homes likely cannot now be included in the NBP, thus potentially making the subsidised scheme less lucrative for Eir’s bidding rivals.
Eir will announce the rollout of broadband with speeds of up to 1,000 megabytes per second (1,000 MB), the fastest speeds available to consumers, in townlands and villages in every county in Ireland. Many of these locations would be considered commercial sweet spots in the rural regions that were to have been part of NBP.
To the far northern reaches of the State, isolated towns and villages such as Falcarragh and Carrigart in Donegal are also due to be hooked up. To the very south, homes in rural Cork are included, such as Crosshaven and Blarney.
Across to the east, some areas on the outskirts of Dublin will be wired up, such as 580 homes around Ballyboughal in the rural north of the county.
In order to string the fibre along the poles, Eir must trim back miles of hedgerows. This is illegal, however, between the months of March and August to protect local wildlife. It is understood the company prioritised the trimming of hedgerows ahead of the March 1st deadline to facilitate its works.
Separately, Eir is also opening applications online for 50 new roles in its apprentice recruitment programme to work on the fibre project. The roles are aimed at school leavers who want skills-based training.