The chief executive of National Broadband Ireland says the signing of the contract to deliver the National Broadband Plan is a "historic day for Ireland".
Peter Hendrick says it will take away "a digital divide that has been there for many years across urban and rural Ireland".
He spoke exclusively to Newstalk's tech correspondent Jess Kelly about the signing of the contract.
The contract for the €3bn plan was signed by the Government on Tuesday.
Some 537,000 premises in 26 counties will be connected with superfast fibre broadband.
The plan is to provide equal opportunity for 100% of the population - ensuring every household and business has access to high-speed broadband.
Work on the plan is set to begin within the next eight weeks.
Survey and design teams will start work in early January in the first deployment locations.
These include Carrigaline in Co Cork, parts of Connemara in west Galway, and several towns in Kilkenny and Limerick.
Around 650 people will be employed directly and indirectly over the first 12 months of the NBP, and 90% of these will be employed locally in each of the deployment areas.
Mr Hendrick said: "It's a historic day for Ireland in terms of our commitment to delivering high speed broadband across the country".
"From today, we will start commencing design and build activities - so our contractors will start commencing design within the next six to eight weeks.
"You will start seeing NBI teams and vans across the country.
"So within the first year, our plan is to start with what we call broadband connection points: which is about 300 broadband points around the country - approximately 11 to 14 per county - where people can access high-speed broadband.
"These are in facilities such as community halls, schools, libraries or GAA facilities."
He added that efforts to begin rolling out the wider fibre network would begin in 'parallel' with that process.
"The first areas that we're going to start deploying that fibre network in is the likes of Carrigaline in Cork, parts of Connemara, Limerick and Kilkenny.
"And quickly in year two, we will have fibre roll-out in every single county in the country".
In terms of workers, Mr Hendrick explained: "We will have NBI-branded vans around the country, but predominantly delivered by our sub-contractors".
"Those sub-contractors are companies that are already delivering fibre across the country for other operators.
"After year one, we'll quickly start ramping up: by year three, we expect to have 2,000 people involved in the roll-out of high-speed broadband across the country".
Mr Hendrick also said he is "very confident" demand will be there once the network is built.
"We know that broadband, or internet in general, the consumption of it is increasing daily, and everybody needs connectivity - it's become a utility.
"So we expect absolutely by the time we get to half way through the contract period - years 14/15 - we absolutely expect that we see 80%-plus penetration on the network".
National Broadband Ireland is a whole-sale operator, so will not be selling the service to homes and business directly - but Mr Hendrick said they have been working with operators closely.
"Every operator will be able to buy from National Broadband Ireland at the same price, regardless of their scale or size", Mr Hendrick added.