85% of the population to have high-speed broadband by 2018

Some 85% of the population is to have high-speed broadband access in 2018 with 100% connected by 2020, the Minister for Communications Alex White has said.

The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Intervention Strategy, which sets out how the Government proposes to ensure the provision of high-speed broadband in areas where the commercial sector will not invest on its own.

The Minister also said he was on schedule to move to formal procurement of the State-provided element of high-speed broadband infrastructure before the end of 2015.

Under the National Broadband Plan (NBP), the Government has committed to delivering high speed broadband access to every home, school and business in the country by 2020, regardless of where they are located.

Minister White said that in 2010 before this Government came to office, high speed broadband was only available to 300,000 homes in Ireland.

“That figure has grown to well over a million homes, with the potential for commercial operators to deliver high speed services to as many as 1.9m premises.

Under the intervention strategy I’m publishing today, we expect that 85% of the premises in Ireland will have access to high-speed broadband in 2018, increasing to 100% by 2020.

The Minister published the high-speed broadband map last year, which he said helped the Government define the areas that need State intervention to ensure that every home, school, business, and community in Ireland gets access to quality broadband.

“I said we would publish the intervention strategy in mid-2015. Today I am making good on that commitment.

“I expect to be in a position to sign a contract or contracts with a winning bidder or bidders by mid-2016. We can then begin to physically connect our communities, all of our communities, to a modern, future-proofed, high-speed broadband network.”

The intervention strategy outlines various aspects of the proposed intervention including the type of network envisaged, the minimum speeds being demanded, the length of the contact for services, and whether the network should be public or privately owned.

It also says bidders for the contract must:

  • Establish and maintain quality standards, including minimum speeds.
  • Create an infrastructure that is capable of meeting current and future data demands.
  • Deliver a wholesale service that is open to all retailers, with benchmarked and transparent pricing and conditions for access.
  • Ensure that services are affordable, competitive and of a comparable standard and price, regardless of where you live.

The draft strategy, and seven detailed expert reports on specific aspects of the intervention, will now be subject to public consultation, which is required under EU rules for state aid interventions, the Department of Communications said.

The consultation runs until September 14, 2015, it said.