Broadband plan a 'game changer' insists Laois TD and Minister

Leinster Express Reporter


Leinster Express Reporter

Portlaoise set to get access to broadband fasttrack thanks to 100% fibre optic cable

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan TD announced that SIRO’s 100% fibre-optic network. Pic James Flynn

Every home, business and farm across Laois can now look forward to high-speed broadband no matter where they are located, Laois TD and Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan has claimed.

The Fine Gael TD said the National Broadband Plan is the largest investment in rural Ireland since rural electrification. He said i is just as important to the future as electricity was then.

“As a TD for a rural constituency, I am acutely aware of the importance of the rollout of this project. By investing in broadband, we are ensuring that Laois has the same opportunities as those living in urban areas, serviced by commercial operators.

“That means, flexible and remote working, smart farming, digital learning and education, online health services and reliable electronic payments and bookings.

“This project is a real game-changer for rural Ireland. We do not want rural Ireland to be left behind so we are investing to end the digital divide and ensure people in rural communities get the same opportunities as those living in our towns and cities.

He said €49m million is being invested in Laois over the next 25 years.

“This plan is about equal access to services and opportunities for everyone, no matter where they live and work.

“This is the largest investment by any Government in rural Ireland since electrification and marks a new departure for the country a decade after the economic crash occurred.

He said every home and business in Laois no matter their location, will have access to high-speed broadband making Ireland the first country worldwide where rural areas have the same opportunity as urban areas. He said project will give flexibility to people to work remotely without the need to travel to larger urban centres.

"Private investors have committed to deliver high-speed broadband to homes in built-up areas and to deliver for 77% of the population. To ensure rural areas have the same opportunity as urban Ireland, the State will ensure that the other 23% of our population receive this vital service," he said. 

Minster Flanagan said that of the 540,000 premises nationwide within the intervention area, more than 80% of them are more than a kilometre from the nearest town or village.

"It is clear from commercial activity to date and the commitments made into the future, there is no realistic prospect of these premises being served commercially," he said. 

He said that the Government’s procurement process has concluded, and it has been determined the maximum possible cost to the state will be €3bn (including VAT and a Contingency Fund) over 25 years. He insisted that no other public projects will be delayed or postponed from this.