The roll out of high-speed broadband to over 11,000 premises in Leitrim has moved one step closer, as the Government announced that work to finalise the contract for the National Broadband Plan (NBP) is well progressed (report here).
This is welcome news for the many homes and business premises in County Leitrim which are adversely affected by lack of broadband and many of which have been lobbying their local representatives for years to get the same services as their counterparts in the capital and major cities around the country.
The high-speed broadband roll-out will cover the remaining 51% of premises in the county.
Communications Minister Richard Bruton recently told the Cabinet that, “It is crucial that we move to sign the contract so that the one million people who today are without access, are not left behind”.
National Broadband Ireland (NBI) is the Preferred Bidder for the contract, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already indicated that he would like to have the contract signed by the National Ploughing Championships in mid-September this year. The first homes could be passed and connected by early autumn next year once the contract is closed.
Leitrim will receive an investment of €45 million to provide fibre broadband to 11,297 homes in the Intervention Area (IA).
This is a mapped area of rural Ireland where high-speed broadband is currently not commercially available and it encompasses over half a million premises, including 56,000 farms and 44,000 businesses. In Leitrim, this includes areas such as Glenboy, Aughavas and Corry.
In total, 51% of all premises in Leitrim will be passed and eligible for connection. The high-speed broadband is set to revolutionise working and home life for many who have had limited or congested connectivity up until now.
Some of the many benefits of high-speed broadband include e-learning, remote monitoring of livestock or equipment, e-health initiatives, better energy efficiency in the home, more remote working and the availability of value bundle phone, TV and internet packages.
Philip Martin, CEO of Cora Systems, a global software company located in Carrick-On-Shannon said, “The nature of living in the North West is that staff move here to live in the scenic countryside with beautiful natural amenities around them. Providing staff with high-speed broadband is critical both for employees to be able to work from home and for the company to attract and retain staff”.
Commenting on the latest news, Paul O’Brien, Head of the Chamber of Commerce in Carrick-On-Shannon, further welcomed the news, “The Chamber is very focused on attracting and retaining business in the region. With the quality of life assured in a beautiful region like this, high-speed broadband is the missing link in rural areas. The National Broadband Plan will make a phenomenal difference to the investment in the region in the coming years”.
NBI chief executive Peter Hendrick said he welcomed Minister Bruton’s recent progress update and said his team are continuing to work hard to ensure contract close in the coming months, “Some members of the team recently met with regional service providers - including several from Leitrim - for information briefings about how their businesses can integrate with the NBP.
“We have also initiated a regional communications campaign to ensure local media and political representatives are provided with up to date and important information regarding the project, to ensure they can deliver that to the public. We look forward to engaging with local communities in the future once the contract is signed and we start our work across Ireland”.
“In addition to the €45 million we will be investing in Leitrim, we will also be creating 2,000 jobs across rural Ireland with the national roll-out of broadband, which will be a substantial boost to the local economies. Access to broadband will also create secondary employment to existing local business and enterprises which have been struggling to compete in the current digital economy” added Donal Hanrahan, Head of Deployment, NBI.