A press release from Ireland’s Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE) confirms that fixed line incumbent eir has taken responsibility for bringing high speed broadband (HSB) to an additional 300,000 premises across the country ‘within 90 weeks’. These premises were previously among those earmarked to require state intervention, whilst the announcement also noted that the Broadband Intervention Map has been updated to add 84,500 premises to the State Intervention Area, apparently as a result of commercial investment which had not materialised. The map can now be finalised, the DCCAE noted, allowing the three consortia shortlisted for providing HSB to premises in the intervention area to launch tenders ‘with some certainty’.
According to the DCCAE, in 2016 only 52% of premises in Ireland had access to what it terms HSB (classified as a service offering downlink speeds of at least 30Mbps). With this latest development, it has been claimed that 77% of premises will have access to such connectivity by the end of 2018, with the majority of remaining premises in the country to gain access to HSB speeds by end-2020.
Ireland’s minister responsible for telecoms, Denis Naughten, commented: ‘The agreement that I have signed with eir means one house every minute of every working day will get fibre to the door high speed broadband over the next 90 weeks.’ He added: ‘Over the last four years commercial operators have invested over EUR2.5 billion [USD2.7 billion] upgrading telecoms networks and services. With the finalisation of the broadband map one of the key uncertainties in the procurement process has now been removed and will allow us to move closer to our goal of ensuring all premises in Ireland will have access to high speed broadband.’
Separately, eir welcomed the announcement by the minister, while confirming it has now commenced an incremental investment programme, costing an additional EUR200 million, saying this would ‘directly benefit rural Ireland’. With this spending, eir says it will upgrade its infrastructure in 890 communities across the country, erecting new pole and fibre cable infrastructure along 23,000 kilometres of roads. It aims to complete the programme by the end of 2018, two years ahead of its initial deadline of 2020, while it says ‘significant progress’ has already been made, with the first 40,000 premises currently passed, a figure which represented ‘a key milestone in [eir’s] commitment to deliver services to over 300,000 additional premises’.