Industry welcomes new move to improve rural broadband

The Telecommunications and Internet Federation (TIF), the Ibec group that represents the telecoms sector, today welcomed the launch byMinister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White of a consultation on the proposed villages and townlands across rural Ireland to be included in the National Broadband Plan’s investment programme.

TIF Director Torlach Denihan said: “Industry  has worked closely with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on the mapping exercise to help make sure as many people as possible have access to high speed broadband. Already, as a result of commercial investment in the last two years, the number of premises to be addressed by the State scheme has been halved.

“However, we still have some way to go in reaching all parts of the country. Obstacles and delays in the planning system remain. Levies, bonds and inconsistency of approach by local authorities regarding telecoms infrastructure and road openings add to the problem. Cooperation between providers, government, local authorities and State agencies is crucial to making speedy progress.”

Setting out some of the background to today’s announcement, Mr Denihan said: “Broadband provision in rural Ireland is challenging because of where our people live. We not only have a relatively low population density, but even more significantly we are incredibly dispersed right across the landscape. The UK is four times more densely populated than Ireland with 263 people per square km, Ireland has 67 people per square km and rural Ireland averages approximately 26 people per square km.

“Our population dispersal is even more important. Over a quarter (27%) of our population live in what the OECD call remote rural regions, namely townlands or villages with fewer than 50 homes, compared to an OECD average of 11%. The extent to which our rural population is dispersed is unique. Rural broadband in Ireland thus requires relatively more telecoms infrastructure (in terms of masts, fibre etc.) than elsewhere.”

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