Source: The Anglo Celt
By: Seamus Enright

The roll-out of the National Broadband Plan in Cavan continues at pace, with initial surveying completed and the project set to move to design stage, The Anglo-Celt can reveal.

It means the formal “build” out of the network could begin within the next 12 months.

The first ‘on the ground’ surveys saw over 3,400 premises examined in several hundred townlands across the county.

This process was completed as recently as last month, with a spokesperson for the National Broadband Ireland, the firm awarded the National Broadband Plan (NBP) contract in November 2019, confirming the next step was to “move into network design phase”.

“The network build in Cavan could begin within 9-12 months, with the first homes there able to connect to the network in early-mid 2021.”

NBI believe, in order to meet the target of 536,000 homes and businesses nationwide, it will require 89,454 kilometres of overhead fibre-optic cabling, 1.46 million poles, with a further 15,057km of cable to be placed underground.

In Cavan, there are 16,200 premises the Intervention Area (IA), which includes homes, farms, commercial businesses and school. This equates to 38% of all premises in the county.

Under the NBP, Cavan will see an investment of €65 million in the new high speed fibre-to-the-home network.

In neighbouring Monaghan, the roll-out of the NBP will see an investment of €62m.

NBI surveyors have already began work surveying Mullinahinch, Bellanode, Drumhilock, Tydavnet, Cloughnart, Scotstown and Killymarley.

Operating at scale across the country, NBI will be building in 13 of 227 separate deployment areas by end 2020, and adding to that network in every county nationwide next year.

Connection points

Ahead of this however, Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) – where the public can access free high speed internet access – will open in locations locally.

The imminent connections were nominated after the Government put pressure on NBI and Councils to put a rush on such installations.

The net access points make-up part of a network of approximately 300 community centres, schools, library hubs and local GAA halls in every county that NBI hope to connect by the end of the year.

BCPs are seen as an important element of early delivery of access to high-speed internet in Intervention Areas, such as Castlerahan and Drumavaddy community centres, as well as Castle Saunderson Scout centre in Cavan.

In Monaghan, up to eight BCPs will be available to the public in the next 12 months and these include community centres in Mullyash and Corcaghan and Carn Resource Centre, among others.

Peter Hendrick NBI chief executive has said that COVID-19 has shown “how vital” technology is in keeping people connected to each other, their work, educational resources, business needs, entertainment services and so much more. “Ending the digital divide that exists between urban and rural communities must be a top priority for every country, as it is in Ireland.

“NBI remain committed to rolling out the National Broadband Plan ahead of time, and our regular discussions with DCCAE include exploring how that might be expedited,” he added.

Community wifi upgrades

Cavan County Council, meanwhile, is looking to upgrade the community Wi-Fi capacity in several towns after successfully been granted funding for the initiative under the Wifi4EU scheme.

The networks, which will be limited but free of charge, advertising and personal data harvesting, are to be established in Bailieborough, Cootehill, Ballyjamesduff, Virginia, Belturbet and Ballyconnell.

Such a capacity is already in existence in Cavan Town, and the scope looking forward is that these areas could then apply for further funding under Smarter Town strategies.