National Broadband Plan: ‘Connecting every townland is essential’

It has been stressed that connecting every townland, home, school and business with high-speed broadband “is an essential priority for Government”.

The Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development, Sean Canney, added that he is “acutely aware of the digital sector’s economic, social and human impact.”

The minister said: “If we are serious about bridging the rural/urban divide, we must work towards all citizens drawing equal benefits from the digitally connected society.

“This must be supported by high-speed broadband and mobile coverage, so that Ireland can be a real digital leader in the future.

High-speed broadband is a key enabler in ensuring that connectivity positively impacts on lives nationwide.

Minister Canney outlined that in 2012, less than 30% of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland had access to high-speed broadband. He confirmed that today, 74% or 1.7 million premises can access a high-speed broadband service.

He noted that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are reminders of the increasing importance of online trading to the Irish economy.

He highlighted how a recent analysis shows Irish online shoppers spent an estimated €7.8 billion online in 2018 – up 20% from €6.6 billion in 2017 and expected to exceed €10 billion by 2020.

“It is vital that Irish businesses at every level take the opportunity to compete for a share of this growing economic activity.”

Minister Canney concluded: “We must remain focused, committed and dedicated to completing the journey towards a digitally connected society – not for many, not even for most, but for all.”