Ireland’s National Broadband Plan (NBP), which aims to deliver broadband access throughout the country with particular focus on rural connectivity, looks set to face delays as responsibility for its implementation has been moved to a different government department, according to reports from the Irish Times. The newly configured Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht is now responsible for the broadband strategy, taking over from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR), though a government spokeswomen is cited as saying the delivery of the NBP remains a ‘priority’. The move follows a recent announcement from the DCENR which claimed introduction of the NBP would be delayed by six months due to the ‘complexities of the process.’ Contracts for the plan’s deployment are now expected to be awarded in 2017, with the network due to be ready in 2022, two years later than originally scheduled.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in August 2012 the then communications minister Pat Rabbitte announced a new NBP, under which up to EUR175 million of state funding would be used to extend next generation high speed network access to the 30% of the population deemed non-viable for commercial operators to serve. A further EUR175 million (USD199 million) would be spent by operators to improve services nationwide.