The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) published its draft Broadband Intervention Strategy this week as part of its plan to provide the entire country with high-speed broadband.
Despite setting a relatively low minimum threshold of 30mbps, particularly in light of the increased prevalence of 4G phone networks and broadband speeds of up to 1gbps, the Intervention Strategy will play an important role in connecting rural Ireland to high-speed broadband. The Strategy’s main purpose is to deliver high-speed broadband into all areas of Ireland, particularly those rural areas which may not be able to access such services solely through commercial investment. It recognises that, at present, there are connectivity deficits across Ireland and t0068at minimum broadband speeds and improved infrastructure will address this shortcoming.
The DCENR has recognised the importance of internet access and so plans to extend high-speed network connectivity to the 750,000 homes which are currently outside the range of commercial operators. The DCENR has also stated that the National Broadband Plan would be best utilised as a commercial stimulus for private operators rather than as a public-private partnership arrangement. At present it is not commercially viable for private operators to develop improved broadband networks in certain rural areas but it is hoped that by funding the roll-out costs of this infrastructure the National Broadband Plan will see the introduction and further development of high-speed broadband nationwide. There are presently no plans to introduce a Bill to implement the plan. Once preliminary plans have been drafted the Department will be able to apply for EU State Aid.