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2016
16
May

Our New Government Needs to stop Dithering With Our National Broadband Plan.

Our New Government Needs to stop Dithering With Our National Broadband Plan.

In 2012 a National Broadband Plan was announced by then Minister Rabbitte. The project should be completed by now, were we to believe Minister Rabbittes ‘promises’ in 2012(1), but it is presently one year away from starting off, the latest delay owing to an apparent problem in planning.

IrelandOffline cannot do much about any of that. However we wish to make a point about the envisaged rollout period which is far too long and far too unambitious.

In 2012 it was known that a substantial portion of a future proof rollout would likely have to be fibre. That has not changed since. However fibre installers were not trained and available on a large scale in Ireland in 2012 and that much has changed since. Eircom, back then, was also in an insolvency procedure from which it has emerged in substantially better shape and the ESB fibre plans (that eventually became SIRO) did not exist, as far as we knew.

IrelandOffline believes that the NBP rollout plan should be adjusted for industry capability in 2016 as distinct from industry capability in 2012.

Eir are able to source sufficient on the ground expertise to announce a 100,000 premises rural rollout in March 2016 and with completion of this rural tranche by March 2017. At that rate of progress, in the timescale that is envisaged for completion of the NBP (that being 5-6 years from June 2017) eircom could fibre a total of 600,000 premises. (and there are only 750,000 premises in the total proposed NBP intervention area)
IrelandOffline believe that the current pause in the tender process provides an opportunity for the Department of Communications to go back to the tendering parties and to get their agreement to a revised rollout rate of 200,000 rural premises per annum from the start point around June 2017. This would mean that the NBP will be more or less rolled out by end 2020.

If we presume that eir are a bidder, a proposal to support their plans and extend the fibre rollout would also be worthy of discussion.

If any of the tendering parties feel that they are incapable of reconfiguring their rollout plan to deliver such an install rate then we think they will be excluding themselves, so there is nothing to lose and everything to gain from bringing them all into the Department to be informed of the accelerated rollout objective. We suspect that no serious tenderer will admit to Minister Naughten, or to their competitors, that they are incapable of meeting such an objective. So bring them all in together.

Any time this week would be ideal. Minister Naughten does not have a full diary yet and this is an extremely important topic.

Notes
http://www.merrionstreet.ie/en/News-Room/News/Spotlights/delivering-a-connected-society-a-national-broadband-plan-2.html 20/08/12 “Communications Minister, Pat Rabbitte, today launched “Delivering a Connected Society – A National Broadband Plan for Ireland” which will facilitate the provision of high speed broadband to every home and business in the State over the lifetime of the Government.

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