Announcement of the delivery of fibre under the NBP plan

IrelandOffline give a cautious welcome to the announcement (1) of fibre optic cables being driven into the community for those forgotten rural parts of Ireland, any effort to drive fibre optic cables deeper into the country, is a move in the right direction for any aspiring “advanced” country..

Eamonn Wallace, Chairman of IrelandOffline said “Given previous false dawns, we would be be very slow to accept this announcement at face value. Previous schemes have promised much but delivered virtually nothing in terms of infrastructure.

The Press Release is notably missing the following short simple sentence:

“We will DELIVER fibre TO each community listed”. We like to call this “fibre to the village”.

Rural broadband to date

“The Minister said that this commitment is a clear expression of Government’s determination to address the connectivity challenge in rural Ireland in a meaningful and sustainable way.”

The same Minister cancelled the Rural Broadband Scheme in 2012 having delivered precisely no connectivity to anybody. This is “clear expression” ?”

The Minister went on“The provision of quality, reliable high speed broadband is a necessity for a 21st century economy and society. The last two years alone has seen dramatic increases in broadband usage and data traffic across broadband networks. This trend is set to continue as new applications and services emerge”.

Wallace went on to say : “This is a message that IrelandOffline, and indeed most of the governments own skilled advisors such as Forfás have constantly delivered for quite a few years and to see a minister say so finally vindicated our long held position. in fact we would go even further and liken driving fibre optic cables deep into the country is the “Rural Electrification” program of the 21st century. That was a project that took almost 25 years to complete but now no home is without access to electricity, in fact to even contemplate a home without electricity is simply unthinkable, the same should be true of fibre optic cables.

Now we do understand that this may be an expensive proposition, although not as expensive as rural electrification, but rather than considering it as a “money pit” it should be thought of as an investment in the country, as many commercial entities have already invested in the country so too should its own government from telecommunications windfalls.

We do however caution that this announcement conveniently comes before an election.  Like many other election promises from this particular government the delivery has been  uncoordinated…and Minister Rabbitte has a bizarre attitude to political “promises” as he admitted recently.

Delivery required

We in IrelandOffline would like to know who is going to deliver this investment.? What is the precise roll-out schedule? Is this gap funding or a joint venture? Who will eventually own the new infrastructure? Is this a purely wholesale service? Is it fibre to the village, fibre to the node, kerb or what? Is it a regulated service?

With that in mind we would simply ask for a list of towns to be publically published that are to be “enabled” with fibre and for some timetables and implementation schedules to be published, this will give hope to the forgotten communities of “rural” Ireland that they too can join selected urban areas in our joint shared future.

Wallace added: “One of the key points that needs to be addressed is what is meant by empowering local communities ‘to accelerate the delivery of high speed broadband to their areas.’ and again what does he mean by saying ‘I have asked my officials to explore options for an appropriate demand led mechanism for inclusion in the published implementation strategy.’”

Does the plan mean that only communities where there is a “demand” will be fibred or will all the villages on the list get fibre regardless? – asked Wallace

We would see a useful role for demand aggregation to where the difference after such a process  would be that every PREMISES gets fibre after a demand aggregation exercise whereas absent such an exercise only a fibre to the community (generally) is proposed. In fact we would see this incremental approach as the only way to get from fractional fibre to universal fibre in many rural areas. and should have a specific demand aggregation plan.

A long time coming

Minister Rabbitte has been in office for 3 years, the Next Generation Broadband Taskforce met in June 2011 the National Broadband Plan was announced in August 2012. It has taken that length of time for the realization that mobile internet access cannot deliver the type of connectivity that homes and businesses actually need.

We ardently hope and look forward to this being delivered as it will be an economic boon to hard pressed rural communities.




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1 Response

  1. Nola Gray says:

    Thank you very much for this information. It has been so depressing watching the young people leave, the tourist industry dry up, and the people here be in general disconnected and on the other side of the digital divide. I hope this actually comes through so that Ireland outside of Dublin will not continue to be left behind, pushed aside, and in general forgotten.

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