The new government has promised a task-force will be formed within the first 100 days
The new Government was announced one week ago and during the week we got to see the new programme for Government. The 155 page document lays out plans for the various portfolios, but those living in Ireland will be particularly interested in section 4; Jobs and Rural Development.
This section of the programme for Government opens with the following paragraph:
"As the economy recovers it is essential that the new Government, together with the Oireachtas, puts in place measures to revitalise all of Ireland so that the benefits are felt inside every doorstep and in every community."
Within this section is the plan for "next-generation broadband" as well as "Mobile Phone & Broadband". This states that the Government will establish a mobile phone and broadband task-force to provide immediate solutions to the broadband / phone coverage deficit, involving the Department of Communications, the Department of Environment, the Department of Transport, ComReg and consumers, to investigate how to provide better services for consuemrs including better use of State assets.
The need for an immediate solution feeds into the rest of the rural development plan. The jobs target laid out by the new Government is an extra 200,000 by 2020, 135,000 of which will be outside of Dublin.
From our recent reports around the country, examining the reality of rural broadband, it is apparent that broadband is of vital importance for businesses outside of Dublin.
Cashel's Engineering in Ballyhaunis in Mayo recently told us their average speed is 0.4mbs and this impacts everything from email and downloads to paying their employees.
Bridging the digital divide between rural and urban Ireland is highlighted as one of the biggest challenges. The Government state they will guarantee the delivery of next-generation broadband to every household and business in the country for at least the next 25 years.
The continued to say "Once the contract is awarded the rollout phase will begin immediately and, in conjunction with commercial investment, 85% of premises in Ireland will have access to high speed broadband within two years, with 100% access as soon as possible up to at most 5 years."