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New Rural Broadband Scheme announced to ensure ubiquitous Irish broadband availability

Pat Rabbitte - Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Pat Rabbitte - Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
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Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte has today announced a new Rural Broadband Scheme which hopes to identify the remaining small percentage of Irish households and businesses unserviced by current broadband providers.

Pat Rabbitte - Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Pat Rabbitte - Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

While the previous National Broadband Scheme of the past three years was largely successful in ensuring basic broadband services were made available to 99% of premises throughout Ireland, the new Rural Broadband Scheme aims to target the remaining defected 1%.

The scheme, which is co-funded by the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development, will be carried out in co-operation with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food under the Rural Development Programme. A public application process inviting individuals to help identify broadband black spots commences today and will continue over the next three months.

Minister Rabbitte stated,

“I am now launching this Scheme to identify the remaining small percentage of premises that have not been able to procure a broadband service and to provide broadband to such premises which cannot be served by the existing market. My Department will be accepting applications for a three month period starting now, so there will be ample opportunity for people to come forward with details of premises that cannot obtain a service”.

By identifying the individual premises that remain disconnected from the internet, the Scheme hopes to ascertain whether existing operators can provide services directly, or whether the Department will need to procure such a service. The Scheme will ensure ubiquitous basic broadband by the end of 2012, ahead of an EU 2013 deadline.

Minister Rabbite also announced that he plans to meet the heads of Ireland’s telecommunications companies over the coming weeks with a view to establishing a road-map for the delivery of faster broadband in Ireland and ensuring that commitments in the Government’s National Recovery Programme would be meet. Under the programme obligations are in place for co-investment with the private and commercial semi-State sectors to provide ubiquitous next generation broadband across Ireland.

The term “next generation broadband” should be approached with caution however, as its ambiguity often leads to misappropriation and misinterpretation. Specific and real broadband targets and speeds would be better applied than played-out buzzwords.

Minister Rabbitte said of the approaching meetings,

“In order to accelerate the development of high speed broadband, my colleague Minister O’Dowd and I intend to engage intensively with industry. To this end we will be convening the first formal meeting of the Next Generation Broadband Task Force over the coming weeks”.

The Scheme also intends that the level of service provided will at least be comparable to the service provided under the National Broadband Scheme, where a minimum download speed of 1.6Mbps is required.

9 Comments

  1. We still do not have achieved the promised 99% coverage and the government now wants to address the “remaining 1%”?! What a joke.

  2. We still do not have achieved the promised 99% coverage and the government now wants to address the “remaining 1%”?! What a joke.

    1. @thenext50k While the new scheme can be welcomed, there undoubtedly are shortcomings with the old National Broadband Scheme. Areas bordering NBS coverage are often on the extreme fringe of broadband availability, or in some cases cannot receive broadband at all (the remaining “1%” but likely higher). Being on the fringe could also mean substantially lower speeds than the minimum 1.6Mbps required under the old scheme (which is pathetic really). Broadband in Ireland is still extremely poor no matter what politicians and telecommunications companies would have you believe. Also, don’t expect any big network speed improvements to happen in the next few years as we’re still conducting “fibre trials”, according to one Irish ISP.

  3. @thenext50k While the new scheme can be welcomed, there undoubtedly are shortcomings with the old National Broadband Scheme. Areas bordering NBS coverage are often on the extreme fringe of broadband availability, or in some cases cannot receive broadband at all (the remaining “1%” but likely higher). Being on the fringe could also mean substantially lower speeds than the minimum 1.6Mbps required under the old scheme (which is pathetic really). Broadband in Ireland is still extremely poor no matter what politicians and telecommunications companies would have you believe. Also, don’t expect any big network speed improvements to happen in the next few years as we’re still conducting “fibre trials”, according to one Irish ISP.

  4. […] New Rural Broadband Scheme announced to ensure ubiquitous Irish …The SociableThe scheme, which is co-funded by the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development, will be carried out in co-operation with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food under the Rural Development Programme. A public application process …Rural Broadband Scheme to connect the last 1pcSiliconrepublic.comNew rural broadband schemeInsideireland.iePlan for full broadband coverage in Ireland by end of 2012thejournal.ieIrish Timeslos 20 artículos informativos » Categories: rural development Leave a Comment […]

  5. The miniser is full of empty promises my download speed at 15-30 -1-6-11 was 0.38 in the nationale sceme. Adress WATEVILLE kILLAGURTEEN CO kERRY

  6. The miniser is full of empty promises my download speed at 15-30 -1-6-11 was 0.38 in the nationale sceme. Adress WATEVILLE kILLAGURTEEN CO kERRY

    1. @hstofberg The reality is that the infrastructure simply isn’t there. Service providers in Ireland are years behind where they should be, probably because of government ignorance and a once state-owned incumbent ISP that lacked, and still does, forward-thinking to invest adequately in its network. Collaboration and co-investment between the government and all iSPs is desperately needed. Eircom have only started fibre to home trials so it will be close to 2020 before this would be available nationwide. It’s unfortunate that the new scheme is only for those that can’t get broadband at all, while it doesn’t address the tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) on 1Mb or less, which is below the National Broadband Scheme minimum.

      Your situation also highlights the increasing emergence of a new urban/rural broadband divide where ISPs refuse to invest in less economically viable rural areas, but continue to do so in urban areas. And so the gap in broadband speeds rises. Companies are under no legal obligation to service particular areas with broadband like they are for telephony.

  7. @hstofberg The reality is that the infrastructure simply isn’t there. Service providers in Ireland are years behind where they should be, probably because of government ignorance and a once state-owned incumbent ISP that lacked, and still does, forward-thinking to invest adequately in its network. Collaboration and co-investment between the government and all iSPs is desperately needed. Eircom have only started fibre to home trials so it will be close to 2020 before this would be available nationwide. It’s unfortunate that the new scheme is only for those that can’t get broadband at all, while it doesn’t address the tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) on 1Mb or less, which is below the National Broadband Scheme minimum.

    Your situation also highlights the increasing emergence of a new urban/rural broadband divide where ISPs refuse to invest in less economically viable rural areas, but continue to do so in urban areas. And so the gap in broadband speeds rises. Companies are under no legal obligation to service particular areas with broadband like they are for telephony.

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Darren McCarra
Darren McCarra is co-editor of The Sociable. He has a keen interest in photography, all things mobile, and writing about technology and social media. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.