The towns of Ballina, Castlebar, and Westport, are to benefit from a joint venture agreed this week by Vodafone and the ESB. The venture will see the companies invest €450 million in 50 towns, including the three in Mayo, in building a 100 per cent fibre-to-the-building, broadband network offering speeds from 200 Mbps to 1000 Mbps, propelling Ireland into the ranks of the world’s fastest broadband countries.
Ireland will also become the first country in Europe to utilise existing electricity infrastructure on a nationwide basis to deploy fibre directly into homes and businesses, initially reaching 500,000 premises in 50 towns.
The fibre will be deployed on ESB’s existing overhead and underground infrastructure, ensuring a fast and cost efficient roll-out to every county in Ireland, and reversing the digital divide between the capital and regional towns.
Speaking after the announcement, Minister of State, Michael Ring, said: “As a result of this major investment plan announced by the ESB and Vodafone, homes and businesses in Ballina, Castlebar, and Westport, will be able to access high speed broadband. This will help to both attract new investment and sustain existing businesses, as well as improving the quality of broadband available in peoples’ homes.”
He went on to say: “Upgrading our broadband network is crucial to our economic recovery. The Government is determined to improve the access, quality, and capacity of the broadband infrastructure in the State. We have seen this with the plan to roll out high speed broadband in every secondary school in the country which will be completed by this September.”
Also welcoming the news, Michelle Mulherin TD said that, “the state is doing its part to upgrade the broadband network, and it is very positive that the private sector is also stepping up to the mark, as evidenced in today’s announcement by the ESB and Vodafone. The Government recognises that we need to be ambitious by future proofing our broadband network, with the objective of solving the connectivity challenge in rural areas for the long term.”
John O’Mahony TD, and Chairman of the Joint Committee on Transport and Communication, has strongly welcomed the announcement saying “the Government is committed to delivering high-speed broadband to half the population by 2015. Today’s announcement is a big step forward in that regard.
“This will benefit businesses and households in these areas which have been crying out for high speed broadband. Today’s news also comes on the back of Claremorris being made a fibre town earlier this year.”