Source: Irish Indendent
By: Adrian Weckler
A family in rural Cork has become the first home connected under the state’s €3bn National Broadband Plan.
The O’Connors, a family of five, live in a part of Carrigaline that previously had no reliable broadband available.
“Our youngest son starts school next year and will need a reliable internet connection to convert his schoolwork to braille,” said Brian O’Connor.
“I also work away from home frequently, so having the ability to speak and see each other remotely is going to mean the world to us, as well as helping us have more regular contact with other family members. These are things that many people in other areas might take for granted.”
According to National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the first wave of homes and businesses in Cork and Cavan are currently being connected to high-speed broadband through commercial operators such as Eir, Sky and Vodafone. Homes in Limerick and Galway are to follow in the coming weeks, the company says, with 19,000 due by the end of April and 130,000 due by the end of 2021.
The new service will typically cost from €45 per month for a 500Mbs connection or from €55 for a 1,000Mbs connection. This is cheaper than similar high-speed services in cities, most of which are limited to a single high-speed provider, Virgin Media. Virgin charges €71 per month for a 500Mbs after an introductory six-month discount period.
Rollout plans for other areas of the country can be checked at nbi.ie/rollout-plan.
However, a timeline for any potential acceleration in the rollout of the National Broadband Plan remains unclear. As it stands, the rollout is not due to be completely finished before 2027.
National Broadband Ireland’s chairman, David McCourt, said that his company is still looking at how to do it in conjunction with Government officials.
“I believe that if Covid gets behind us in the very near future, acceleration seems logical and probable,” he said. “We have a dedicated team looking at all the ways to bring homes from years six and seven right in. The department [of Communications] also has a team looking at it. They both meet every week and they’re working through all the details.
“Both groups are hopeful that there’ll be some level of success. I believe they will come up with solutions to bring some amount of those homes forward. But I can’t tell you how many that might be.”
He said that there had already been some acceleration, with a decision to connect over 600 schools ahead of schedule.
Mr McCourt said that demand for the new high-speed broadband through the rural platform might be higher than originally anticipated.
“From what the service providers tell us, it’s more robust than we originally thought,” he said.
“For families and those working from home, there isn’t much of a choice. So I think [demand] will be more robust.”
NBI says that it currently has “operations” underway in all 26 counties, with construction ongoing for 19,237 premises in townlands across Cork, Cavan, Galway and Limerick. The first premises in these counties will be able to start placing orders through their retail broadband operators such as Sky, Vodafone, Pure Telecom and Eir, as well as a dozen smaller regional operators.
NBI says that it expects the number of premises under construction to be in excess of 130,000 by the end of the year, with approximately 70,000 premises available for connection “at prices similar to those available in urban areas”.
33 broadband and phone providers have signed up to sell services on the NBI network, according to the company, with 17 certified as ready to start providing connections to premises once they become available and customer orders are made.
Services will not be limited to broadband, but are likely to also include voice and TV.
“As a transformational project, the National Broadband Plan will connect over 1.1 million people across some 544,000 homes, business, farms and schools where commercial operators do not currently provide high-speed connectivity,” said Environment, Climate and Communications Minister Eamon Ryan.
“The growth in remote working and learning during the pandemic has highlighted how critical access to reliable, high-speed connectivity is to our lives. Today marks a major milestone in the rollout of the National Broadband Plan as we see the first connections and I’m delighted that homes and businesses will soon be able to start placing orders to receive access to world-leading connectivity.”