In a statement released on Monday, the Department of Communication, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) has emphasised the Irish government’s commitment to the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP), noting that the procurement process to deliver the new network is now ‘well underway’. Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Denis Naughten, is cited as saying: ‘The network will be expected to serve at least 30% of the premises in Ireland who cannot currently get access to high speed services. It will have to traverse approximately 100,000km of road network or 96% of the land area of Ireland to get to every home, every business and every school. It will be the most significant investment in rural Ireland since rural electrification,’ adding: ‘All second level schools now have access to 100Mbps broadband … There are however still 1,500 primary schools, and over 750,000 premises, mainly in rural Ireland, who still cannot get access to high speed broadband services.’
Under responsibilities of the recently configured Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht, companies interested in deploying the NBP are expected to be shortlisted as bidders within the next month, with contracts to be signed by June 2017. Further, a national mobile phone and broadband workgroup is scheduled be established which will consider immediate measures to alleviate broadband and mobile phone service deficits across rural Ireland.