The national broadband plan promises to wire up every Laois premises by 2027
The national broadband plan is promising to wire up to every premises in Laois by 2027, charging just €100 for the connection fee.
A €98 million fibreoptic network investment in Laois has been announced with the cost being shared between National Broadband Ireland investors and the Government.
The company ended up as the sole bidder for the contract after Eir and ESB pulled out. However it plans to use mostly existing overhead lines, ducting and poles owned by those companies.
Director of Deployment Padraig O’Toole from Mountmellick gave a presentation to the February meeting of Laois County Council.
“We will go down lanes, over gardens and across fields to get to front doors,” he said.
He showed a map of Laois which was almost all amber in colour, depicting the rural areas with no fibre broadband coverage.
“There are 12,400 premises in Laois which do not have adequate broadband, that is 32 %. Our aim is that each and every home, business and farm will have access. We believe equal access to broadband is critical for the economy,” he said.
“We are not a monopoly. We are a wholesale network with access for every service provider,” he said.
Phase one will install fibre in a 22km radius out from existing technology hubs in 35 Irish towns including Portlaoise, Roscrea and Carlow, over county boundaries.
Next the company will fill in the gaps to connect villages and finally connect every remote countryside premises within seven years.
The company aims to have 11 community digital hubs in Laois in service by the end of this year for remote rural areas who have to wait longest for individual connections.
They include Bloom HQ in Mountrath, Webmill in Mountmellick, MakePort in Portarlington, Gaelscoil tSlí Dála and Ballyadams schools and Vicarstown community hall. They will be free to the public until cable is connected to local homes.
Of the 105,000km of network needed 90,000 will be overhead lines. It will give 150mb download and 30mb upload speeds.
Asked by Cllr Aisling Moran if overhead lines will be vulnerable to cuts with extreme storms from climate change, Mr O’Toole said going underground was too dear .
“If we decided to lay trenches we would not have much change out of €150 a metre, 10 times the cost, that’s one of the prices we pay to live in ribbon development,” he said.
Laois Broadband Officer is Antoinette Brennan.
“We do know we’re in trouble with broadband in Laois. This rollout began last November and this week we will start rollout surveys,” she said.
Cllr Ollie Clooney asked about the full cost to use the service.
“After one or two years will the cost go up, will there be a sting in the tail,?” he asked, also wanting it installed “before the next local election or I’ll be shot”.
Mr O’Toole said that service providers will add their own cost.
“Our connection fee is €100. Our charge to service providers is €30 a month,” he said.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said students are not coming home to Laois at weekends because there is no broadband for their studies.
“People are desperate,” she said.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley asked if the wireless masts erected in Laois by Cignal will be utilised by the network.
“There are concerns around 5G health risks,” she said.
Mr O’Toole answered that theirs is a fibre service only, with the only exception being premises in natura protected areas where they may not be permitted to lay fibre.