Denis Naughten TD has called on the Government to ensure that Eirgrid’s plan for a new electricity network makes provision for the roll-out of a fibre-optic cable network to provide industrial broadband throughout the country.
“The planned roll-out of a new high voltage electricity network throughout the country by Eirgrid provides an ideal opportunity to expand the reach of the State-controlled fibre backbone which can provide high speed broadband to many parts of rural Ireland,” stated Denis Naughten.
“Through its Grid25 plan, Eirgrid intends to develop 800km of new power lines and upgrade 2,000 km of existing electricity transmission from now until 2025. In the past the ESB included the rollout of broadband fibre in tandem with its upgrade of the high voltage transmission network but to date Eirgrid has made no provision for fibre-optic cable as part of it investment of over €3.2bn over the next decade.
“While we are now told that smaller towns and rural communities will be able to rely on wireless and mobile services to avail of broadband, the fact is that the new 4G mobile network and other high speed broadband networks, such as wireless services, rely on direct access to fibre capacity to backhaul data over their networks. Without industrial strength fibre, these services will never be able to deliver for many parts of the country, leaving them with limited potential to attract and develop new business. Interestingly it is the current ESB broadband cable that is used to deliver the backhaul capacity for the Government rollout of industrial speed broadband to schools in the west and midlands.
“The inclusion of fibre roll-out in conjunction with power line upgrade is a golden opportunity to provide for high speed broadband connectivity to some of the communities least well served by fibre powered broadband at present. It will also make these communities far more attractive to inward investment by providing not just a reliable electricity supply but also a reliable high speed broadband service.
“The failure to include broadband fibre as part of the upgrade of the electricity network is akin to the failure to connect up the two LUAS lines in Dublin. Eventually it will be done at a far greater cost and with delays that will cost business,” concluded Denis Naughten.