Broadband rollout on track for 2010

The long awaited and promised Government National Broadband Scheme (NBS) is now well underway and the rollout of one of the most advanced wireless technologies in the world will be complete by October 2010 by 3, Ireland’s largest high speed network. At this point 50% of the NBS rural areas are now covered and is already providing opportunities for farmers and rural self-starters to set up their own businesses

This is great news for the most rural and isolated regions of the country which will see the remaining 10% of the population get the most badly needed service since the electrification of Ireland in the 1940’s and 50’s in the remaining 30% of the country that cannot access broadband.

Communities in far flung places like the Aran Islands, West Mayo, South Kerry, West Cork and North-West Donegal are now as connected to the rest of the world with broadband from 3 Ireland as the main urban centres Dublin, Cork, New York, London and Sydney. Already the technology will allow rural areas access to high-speed and high-capacity wireless broadband, with enhanced voice, data, and multimedia services. This will allow the download of data and information from Dept. of Agriculture as well as other related and relevant business and agri-websites along with ordinary tasks like downloading music, surf the web, check emails, book flights, renew car tax, or make free Skype calls abroad.

3’s NBS Project Director Damien Gallagher said “ Farming is no different to any other industry sector that needs to react efficiently and speedily in an increasingly competitive business environment. Existing farm enterprises and new start-up  businesses in the NBS coverage areas across rural areas will be able to make the most of high speed internet, email, and additional services, opening up local and global markets, and potentially improving efficiencies and revenues in this smart world knowledge economy”.

“The Minister of Agriculture recently said that while online services are of value to all families, they are of particular value to rural dwellers. A vast range of services that, in the past, required a rural dweller to make a trip to the nearest big town are now available at the click of a mouse, and this can make a significant difference to the quality of rural life. Farmers will be able to check grain, milk or cattle prices immediately at home or even as they work from the tractor. Efficiencies will also be created for part-time farmers who have to commute to another job to supplement their incomes” he continued.

Broadband in rural communities will help tackle many challenges such as social exclusion, isolation and help sustain small populations in isolated and disadvantaged areas. People will be able to get instant access to public services and pursue leisure and fun interests, keep in touch with relatives and friends abroad and also liaise with organizations such as in the medical sector.

3 Ireland have been busy in implementing the roll out of the first phase of broadband services which began last April and the programme will continue right up to the end of 2010. Over the last ten months, the NBS has provided broadband services to areas across 25 counties. Recently we have enjoyed landmarks such as the provision of broadband services to the people of the Aran Islands and reaching 100% coverage for NBS areas in both Laois and Wexford.

3 was awarded the National Broadband Scheme contract by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources to provide access to affordable, scalable broadband services to rural areas, many of which do not currently have any broadband service. The National Broadband Scheme sees an estimated €223m in investment by 3 of which a maximum of €79.8m will be contributed by the Government and EU.

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