The delivery of high-speed broadband to every home, school and business by 2020 will become the most important public investment in rural Ireland, according to Minister for Communications, Alex White.

Minister White visited the National Broadband Plan stand at the National Ploughing Championships in Co. Laois last week.

“Some 80,000 farms – 94% of the total in Ireland – will benefit from the Government’s National Broadband Plan, making it the single most important investment we will make in rural Ireland.

“The IFA is a strong advocate of the use of new technology in farming. It has supported the Government’s intervention because high-speed broadband is vital for rural families and businesses.

“When this Government came into office in 2011, just 300,000 homes in Ireland had access to high-speed broadband.

“Today, that figure has risen to 1.3m following Government initiatives to stimulate commercial investment. By the end of 2016, commercial providers will be delivering high-speed broadband to 1.6m addresses. The Government will intervene directly to bring high-speed broadband to the rest,” he said.

Over 750,000 addresses, 1.8m citizens and 63,000 small businesses will benefit from the direct State intervention. The physical build of the network is on course to start next year and will be completed in 2020, with 85% of Irish premises getting high-speed broadband access by 2018.

Minister White said increased connectivity in rural Ireland will help attract investment and facilitate wider use of the innovative agricultural technologies we’ve seen at the Ploughing Championships this week.

“My ambition is to ensure that rural businesses and householders have access to the same standard of broadband as people in urban areas, and at comparable prices.”