Communications Minister Eamon Ryan today announced the successful delivery by 3 Ireland, of the Government’s €223 million National Broadband Scheme. In two years, the Scheme has brought a broadband service to 1,028 areas across Ireland which were previously without. Ireland is one of the first countries in the world to deliver such a scheme on a national basis, and has met the EU target for broadband availability, two years in advance.

A minimum download speed of 1.6Mbps and maximum of 14.4Mbps service has been made available for 235,000 premises across every county in Ireland, creating 170 jobs in the process.

“This is the most significant milestone in Ireland’s broadband story,” said Minister Ryan. “Two years ago, I committed that the Government would deliver broadband to every area in the country that was without a service. I am pleased to announce today that we have succeeded in our plans. We now have a platform for future advances. Broadband has been made available for almost a quarter of a million premises nationwide. Now that we have this base, there is no limit to the possibilities.”

3’s NBS broadband network is proving a huge success all over Ireland and especially in remote areas like the Aran Islands, Clare Island, Achill Island and many parts of Connemara, Mayo, Kerry and Donegal where families and small businesses alike are getting the full benefit of this essential service which is the most enabling technology since the rural electrification of the State in the 1940’s.

Robert Finnegan, 3 CEO said: “3’s high quality broadband offering will have enormous benefits for rural homes and businesses throughout the country.  Working from the home can become a reality for many and online banking, shopping and education will become the norm at last in these remote areas. A further bonus for people in NBS areas is that they can use their 3 broadband services on the move as well as in their household”.

This completion has the potential to enable small business job creation in rural areas and could be worth millions of Euro to the country. The potential economic dividends of broadband access cannot be overstated” said economist Jim Power. In a recent research paper he stated that, in Co Mayo, for example, if high-quality and affordable broadband were to result in the creation of one new small business employing 10 people in each of the electoral districts covered by the NBS, it could result in a net wage injection of €26.9 million into the local economy. Other western counties would also substantial benefits into their local economies like Donegal at almost €25m, Galway at just over €53m and Kerry at just over €40m.

 

Examples of the benefits from the NBS have already been seen by Andrew Butler who is an IT expert and member of the Rural Resource Centre in Ballymacarbry, Co Waterford: “People are enjoying a service that could not be provided with the old dial-up connection. This is a low cost system that suits areas of low population density. People of all ages are now doing courses, availing of the 10 computers in our resource centre. All this gives people more confidence and they feel less alienated from the world. Some people living in very remote areas right in the foothills of the Comeragh mountains no longer feel as isolated as they once were”.

According to Cathy ni Ghoill of Comharchumann Arann, the community development organisation for Inis Mor the largest of the Aran Islands: “Broadband connectivity has given a huge economic boost to the area. There has been a great response from users, both individuals and businesses and we finally have a dependable link to the Mainland and to Europe”.