Source: The Irish Examiner
By: Pádraig Hoare

Long-suffering communities throughout Munster should finally begin to see fibre connections come to their area in the coming weeks as the national broadband plan (NBP) begins to take root.

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said design work is now either complete or ongoing in target townlands across 25 counties and “steady progress is being made” with over 118,000 premises surveyed.

The contractors behind the plan, National Broadband Ireland, will have completed some 120,000 surveys by the end of the year, which involves physical examination and stock take of poles, cables and underground ducts in each area. 

Mr Ryan said the laying of fibre should begin shortly with the first fibre to the home connections expected around December this year in Carrigaline in Cork.

Surveys have begun in areas such as Midleton, Douglas, Ballyphehane, Glasheen, and Mahon, he added.

It comes as a rival to National Broadband Ireland, the commercial tie-up between Vodafone and the ESB known as Siro, announced that 3,000 homes and businesses across Athy have gone live on its 100% fibre network. 

“From Newbridge to Clane, more than 26,000 premises across eight towns in county Kildare now have the opportunity to connect to Gigabit Broadband — the fastest connection available anywhere in Ireland,” Siro claimed.

The firm claimed that its gigabit broadband is now available to more than 350,000 premises around the country, having boasted that more than 8,000 premises in Cork and Galway will be primed for what it called “gold-standard 100% fibre broadband” by the end of 2020.

Siro work has been observed in Cork city suburbs in recent weeks, with work crews on ESB infrastructure across the region as the race between telecommunications firms to equip communities with broadband gathers pace.

So-called “broadband connection points” (BCP) are earmarked for more than 200 sites scheduled in 2020, in addition to 75 BCPs located in schools. Up to 100 more public access sites are planned for connection in 2021, according to community and rural affairs minister Heather Humphreys.

BCPs are public locations selected to receive high-speed connectivity in the first year of the NBP, according to National Broadband Ireland.

The locations of the BCPs were selected by local authorities and include public areas such as community halls, libraries, sports facilities, enterprise hubs, tourist locations and other public spaces.

Kerry TD Pa Daly has called for an extra focus on the county, claiming broadband coverage is “very patchy” in the whole county, including some areas “where it is difficult even to get telephone coverage, never mind broadband”.

Ms Humphreys said there will be nine public access BCPs and three school BCPs connected in Kerry this year.

National Broadband Ireland, selected last year as the NBP operator after an eight-year drawn out tender saga, is aiming for highspeed broadband to approximately 115,000 farms, schools and businesses in the first two years, with an additional 70,000 to 100,000 per year after that.

The long-mooted NBP promises to provide broadband to some 540,000 premises overall.