Communications Minister Eamon Ryan today announced the National Broadband Scheme, the Government scheme to deliver broadband services throughout the country. Following the conclusion of a competitive tendering process, the Minister has entered into a contract for the delivery of this scheme with ‘3’ (a Hutchinson Whampoa company).
Ireland currently has over 1.2 million subscribers to broadband. The National Broadband Scheme will provide the remaining 10% of our population, or approximately 33% of the area of the country, with broadband services (see attached map). Ireland will have 100% coverage by September 2010; half of the area under the scheme will be covered by the end of this year.
Investment of €223 million from a combination of Exchequer funds, EU co-financing and ‘3’ will create 170 direct jobs. Hundreds more will be protected and created as the availability of broadband increases the investment and enterprise in the targeted areas.
‘3’ will extend its network to provide mobile wireless broadband services into the NBS area. Initially, the service will have a minimum download speed of 1.2 mbps. At least, two upgrades of speeds are planned during the lifetime of the contract. These product upgrades will be carried out at no cost to the customer.
Announcing the scheme, Minister Ryan said, “For too long, rural Ireland has been without this essential service.
Today’s announcement is a boost for the rural economy. Now businesses throughout the country can have ready access to the national and international markets. Employment will be created and sustained. Quality of life will improve for rural residents and communities will be strengthened.
This contract represents real value for public money. I congratulate ‘3’ on winning this contract and look forward to them meeting the challenging, but achievable coverage targets.”
Robert Finnegan Chief Executive of 3 commented: “3 is delighted to have won the NBS tender – it’s great news for 3 and for rural Ireland. We’ll be rolling out our first class broadband network bringing internet services to thousands of homes and businesses across the country. Over five years we’ll be investing 223 million euros and creating around 170 new jobs giving Ireland’s economy a welcome boost. There has never been a more important time for people to get connected as Ireland strives to sharpen its competitiveness. 3 has already played an important part in bringing Ireland up to speed in the broadband league tables and we look forward to further strengthening 3’s market leading position with the most innovative and services and best value price plans available.”
Well if there’s one thing you can bank on our friends in the US of A it’s for an interesting turn of phrase. The IIA’s “acronymsake”, (that’s my really interesting turn of phrase!) the Internet Innovation Alliance, who are based in the US have been very concerned for some time now about the “exaflood”. As the video below puts it 1 exabyte of data if converted to DVD quality video would take 50,000 years to watch. Therefore the Internet Innovation Alliance predict that an exaflood is imminent. They are “a broad-based coalition of business and non-profit organizations committed to more widespread usage and availability of broadband through wise policy decisions”. Other statistics included in this video make a compelling case for ensuring your voice is heard in relation to the Irish Government’s plan for Next Generation Broadband. We are all very aware that internet trends and their impacts cannot be confined to one country and similar growth should be expected and prepared for in Ireland’s knowledge economy. So please leave your comments below or read the views of the IIA’s Physical Infrastructure Working Group as outlined by Keith Bohanna, Chair and add your comments there. Getting involved in consultation like this is as important an aspect of democracy as voting. And anyway it’s not possible that you are too busy outside enjoying the sun…
The Irish Internet Association (IIA) welcomes the Government’s plan for next generation broadband which was launched yesterday by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamonn Ryan, T.D
The ten-step plan includes targets for physical infrastructure, access and research. The IIA in particular welcomes the Government’s acknowledgement of the importance of education through its promise of 100 Mbs access in all secondary schools on a phased basis.
CEO of the IIA, Fergal O’Byrne, said that, while increasing access is a major step addressed by the plan, the IIA have always maintained that the Irish Government should ensure not only Availability but Affordability and Access Speeds as well. The IIA contributed submissions to the Government’s consultation process comprising these key aspects and other concerns voiced by the IIA membership. In order to do this the IIA set up a Physical Infrastructure Working Group whose membership includes key stakeholders and experts in the area.
The Government has called for further submissions on this policy with a deadline of September 30th 2008 and we want to hear your opinion on their proposed policy. Please feel free to leave comments via the comments or mail members at iia dot ie.
You can access the Consultation Paper on Next Generation Broadband as a PDF on the Department website. Make sure you have broadband and time before you download: it’s 2Mb and 61 pages.
Keith Bohanna, chair of the IIA Physical Infrastructure Working Group will be writing a post on this blog which will expand on some of the issues and we will welcome comments on his post as well.
The IIA think that as a knowledge economy Ireland should be leading the world in software services, online services and eGovernment and in order to do that cutting edge broadband infrastructure is a must.
Japan, the Scandinavian countries and other parts of Europe all enjoy broadband access at much higher speeds than are currently available anywhere in Ireland, at a fraction of the cost. The IIA look to these countries as an example of the broadband services that Irish businesses and citizens can look forward to if the Government implement the policy which they launched today as expeditiously as possible.
Maeve Kneafsey, IIA Chair and MD of Elucidate was recently asked to contribute to a Sunday Times article about broadband in light of Vodafone‘s entry into the market. Here below are her thoughts which make a handy pocket sized guide to choosing broadband in Ireland.
What should consumers expect to get from a decent basic broadband package?
One of the big things for consumers to watch out for is not just the monthly cost, but also to compare the speed or megabytes (mb) they are being offered and all the additional extras involved in installing the service into their home or business. There can be a lot of hidden costs, so check the detail and then make your cost comparison. Watch out for the cap on the amount of files you can transfer in any given month as this can be really expensive if you go over your cap. The opening offer from Vodafone for a 2mb broadband connection for EUR49.00 a month, includes installation.
What is the best type of broadband – (ADSL), cable-TV connections, or wirelessly through the air via a satellite dish or aerial?
Depends on what is most important to you, convenience (being able to move around), speed, cost and of course if the service or choice are available in your area. Most areas don’t even have a huge choice as often served by one or two service providers.
Wireless via satellite can be expensive, wireless via the air is reliable and convenient (depending on providers coverage of course) but can be a bit slow (e.g. 3.5mb or download or upload speed), sky offer 8-9mb which seems very fast, ADSL still seems to be the fastest and the most reliable, but it is not always the cheapest and it may not be available in your area. Also watch out if it says it is an up to 2mb it may be less than 2mb.
What is the best way of shopping around for a deal?
Maybe start by using a very handy online tool called the Broadband Calculator that allows you to fill in your preferences and it will deliver a result – http://www.callcosts.ie/broadband/Broadband_Calculator.175.LE.asp which is (from what I can tell) an independent source of information. It asks you questions such as do you want to exclude the cost of a telephone line rental as some providers don’t need a phone line to operate, what speed you want etc.
I would also use the price comparison websites http://www.broadband.gov.ie/List+all++Services/ to compare costs and download speeds. However, your journey does not end there, because then you have to check that your shortlist providers are available in your area which you can find out from http://mapviewer.broadband.gov.ie/ServiceByLocationSearchWF.aspx.
Then double check there aren’t any hidden costs associated with installation and add-ons to your monthly charges, which may not have been mentioned earlier. You need to double check exactly what you will see as a total charge on your monthly bill before you agree to sign up to any service provider. No harm in asking them to confirm by email. You should also check how long it will take before it will be set up (“Is there a waiting list?”) and exactly what is involved. You don’t want to be sitting waiting all day for them to arrive, or have a team ready to work without any access to broadband. So ask how this is managed and can you book a specific time for installation.
An added difficulty can be getting a response from the providers, especially if you contact them via their website or email. But if they do offer you to contact them via email or their website and don’t respond to your query, it might indicate how well they will deal with you in the future if you are experiencing problems with your service.
Who do you think is offering the best deal at the moment?
I would love to answer this one, but it depends on what is the top priority for you. Is it speed, ability to move around, reliability, availability in your area or cost? Good luck!