Some 79 rural Tipperary towns and villages are to be connected to a new state-subsidised fibre broadband service that will cost up to €1bn to build. Announcing this welcome news and major investment, North Tipperary Labour Minister for State Alan Kelly has stated that this is a significant development for the rural and remote areas of county Tipperary.
Areas in the hinterland of Thurles who are expected to benefit from this exciting development will include; Ballingarry (South), Ballinure, Ballycahill, Boherlahan, Bouladuff, Castleleiney, Clonoulty, Coalbrook, The Commons, Dovea, Drom, Drumbane, Dualla, Goold’s Cross, Horse & Jockey, Killea, Lisheen, Loughmore, Moyne, New Birmingham, Rossmore, Templetouhy, and Upperchurch, to name but a few.
Minister Kelly spoke of the project to Thurles.info yesterday, while attending at the launch of the new and exciting Derrynaflan developed tourism trail held in the Horse & Jockey Hotel, Thurles, Co Tipperary.
Construction is expected to begin next year and close to 1,100 small rural towns and villages across Ireland will now gain access to fibre broadband for the very first time.
Mr Kelly said the Government was committing to some €512m funding to this project, with hundreds of millions in matching investment expected from tender-winning broadband operators. The money is being made available through €6.8bn from the Strategic Investment Fund, formerly known as the National Pension Reserve Fund, and the European Investment Bank and the plan would require final approval from the European Commission.
“This upgrading now signals this Government’s intention to subsidise/upgrade rural broadband, thus reversing an unacceptable growing divide between urban and rural Ireland,” Minister Kelly stated.
Nationally the plan envisages 900,000 of Ireland’s estimated 2.3 million premises gaining access to the new fibre network. This will be dominated by a target list of 1,100 small towns and villages that are identified as having no other high-speed broadband service available.
The list of these 1,100 small towns was the result of a mapping exercise conducted by the Government and both this list and mapping exercise could still be further expanded. “It should be noted that anywhere that industry is currently providing a high-speed service, same will not be included in our current rural areas to now be expanded and if infrastructure such as railway lines etc. could be further utilised to help distribute required fibre lines, the slow work of having to dig new trenches could be avoided,” Mr Kelly continued.
Mr Kelly said it had not yet decided whether the tender would initially seek one overall partner or whether it could be divided into separate tenders, based on regions.
This overall rural fibre broadband project is set to be complete by 2016 at the latest and will be welcomed particularly by small struggling rural businesses in Tipperary.