Source: RTE News
By: Adam Maguire

Vodafone Ireland has been awarded the contract to provide services to the broadband hubs being established in rural areas of the country.

A network of Broadband Connection Points will be the first locations to be connected under the National Broadband Plan and will offer free internet access to the public.

The locations include community centres and sports clubs, with the Department of Rural and Community Development promising to bring around 200 locations on-line before the end of the year.

A further 100 are set to go live in early 2021, with more promised over the next 12 months.

National Broadband Ireland, which is tasked with rolling out high-speed broadband across the country, will provide the connectivity to the locations.

As part of the newly-awarded contract, Vodafone will install and manage the equipment that the public will connect to.

Under the plan the hubs will provide wireless broadband connections of up to 150mbps for three years, or until a permanent connection is made available in the area by National Broadband Ireland. 

“Vodafone will work alongside National Broadband Ireland, the Local Authority Broadband Officers and site owners to bring early connectivity to rural areas as soon as possible, having regard to public health guidelines,” said Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring.

“I commend all of the site owners, volunteers and community groups that have come on board to allow this initiative to happen. Many people will benefit as a result of the community spirit shown by all concerned.”

Vodafone Ireland CEO Anne O’Leary said the company was “delighted” to be awarded the conract. 

“The Broadband Connection Points will allow Ireland to continue to build towards a digital society of the future,” she said.

“As we look ahead to a post Covid-19 era, broadband connectivity will ensure that rural Ireland plays a key role in our economic recovery”.

Late last year the Government signed off on the €3 billion National Broadband Plan which aims to ensure high speed connectivity is available to every home and premises in the country.

Under the plan National Broadband Ireland is to connect 540,000 premises, a quarter of which should be established by the end of next year.

It is hoped that 95% of the population capable of receiving a high-speed service after year five, however it could be up to seven years before every last home or business is brought online.