150 hubs for free super-fast internet will be in place by 2021, with 150 more scheduled for next year
After a very bumpy beginning, Ireland’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) is finally making progress, with National Broadband Ireland (NBI) announcing that 150 high-speed internet hubs will be active by the end of the year.
These hubs are the first half of the 300 proposed by the NBP, where the public will have access to free high-speed internet. These hubs are something of an interim measure, as NBI takes its time to map out the full-fibre network proposed by the Plan.
The NBP itself is still in its infancy. In November last year, the Irish government agreed to a €3 billion contract with NBI to complete the project, a scheme which aims to connect 537,000 premises currently considered ‘black spots’ for connectivity.
The awarding of the contract itself was somewhat controversial. Delayed by over a year, NBI finally won the deal when all other competitors withdrew during the bidding process. However, the result was overshadowed by the resignation of the Minister of Communications, Denis Naughten, who was discovered to have secretly met with David McCourt, the American businessman leading the NBI consortium.
The Plan has also come under fire from those that argue the network being built should be government-owned, since it is being funded by taxpayer money.
Now in 2020, NBI is surely keen to put the controversy of the Plan’s origins behind them and is rushing to begin the process of connecting Ireland’s hard-to-reach areas. The company claims that up to 10,000 homes will be connected by the end of the year, with plans in place for a further 108,000. Once completed, these premises will represent around a fifth of the half-a-billion target laid out by the NBP.
“Operating at scale across the country, NBI will be building in 11 separate areas by end 2020, and in every county nationwide next year,” said an NBI spokesperson.
According to the Plan, 130,000 premises should be connected in the first two years, with the project itself expected to take around seven years to complete, though most of the target connections will be made after just three.
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