The €3 billion contract for the National Broadband Plan has been signed, paving the way for the transformation of Rural Ireland as a place in which to work and live.
This is a game-changer. The talk and rhetoric is over. We are now moving ahead with implementation with work to start within eight weeks.
As part of the contract, we will be investing €153 million in Galway county alone. The potential for our communities, villages and towns is huge.
Across the country, 1.1 million people will be connected, along with 54,566 farms, 44,000 businesses and 695 schools. The plan involves 146,000 kms of new fibre covering 96% of the country’s land mass. This roll out is the modern equivalent of rural electrification.
The patchwork installation of high-speed broadband will end and we will have equality of service right across Ireland. The contract will cover the installation and maintenance of the fibre network for the next 25 years.
No-one will be left behind and communities like Ballinakill, Barnaderg, Caherlistrane, Headford, Claran, Belclare and so many others will finally be getting the service they deserve.
This will be a digital revolution for provision of services such as health and education, while new opportunities will open up for agriculture and tourism.
The state of the art broadband infrastructure will launch new businesses, new investment and remote working.
As chair of the Atlantic Economic Corridor Taskforce, connectivity is one of my key priorities. The economic benefits for the ten counties that make up the AEC from Kerry to Donegal will be huge.
We will also have 300 Broadband Connection Points offering community hubs all over the country.
The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce, which I chair, has done vital work along with the Local Authority Broadband Officers to make sure these connection points are ready to be rolled out within one year of the contract becoming operational.
The Broadband Connection Points in Galway are: Cahergal National School, Cortoon Community Centre and Brownsgrove National School, Tuam; Ballinakill National School and Leitrim Community Centre, Kylebrack; St Colman’s National School, Tierneevin, Gort; St Mary’s National School, Kippanagh, Clonberne; the Old Secondary School, Glenamaddy; Kilcroan National School, Williamstown; Tiernascragh National School, Ballycrissane, Ballinasloe; Scoil Caoimháin, Inis Oirr; Lettermullan Community Centre; Comhar na nOileán, Inis Oirr; Briarhill National School, Ballintemple; Recess Post Office; Inishbofin Community Centre; Coláiste Naomh Eoin, Inis Meáin; Kilronan Library, Inis Mór; St Joseph’s National School, Barna; and Mweenish National School.
Some politicians have been trying to have it both ways by calling for the network to be put into public ownership but they know full well that would just delay everything for five years. Now is the time for action.
“The implementation of high-speed broadband for Rural Ireland has been a long time coming but now the work will begin and the vision will become a reality.