The roll out of high-speed broadband to over 16,000 premises in Waterford has moved one step closer, as the Government announced that work to finalise the contract for the National Broadband Plan (NBP) is well progressed.This is welcome news for the many homes and business premises in County Waterford which are adversely affected by lack of broadband and many of which have been lobbying their local representatives for years to get the same services as their counterparts in the capital and major cities around the country. The high-speed broadband roll out will cover the remaining one in four premises in the county.
Communications Minister Richard Bruton recently told the Cabinet that “it is crucial that we move to sign the contract so that the one million people who today are without access, are not left behind”.
National Broadband Ireland (NBI) is the Preferred Bidder for the contract, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already indicated that he would like to have the contract signed by the National Ploughing Championships in mid-September this year. The first homes could be passed and connected by early autumn next year once the contract is closed.
Waterford will receive an investment of €65 million to provide fibre broadband to 16,589 homes in the Intervention Area (IA). This is a mapped area of rural Ireland where high-speed broadband is currently not commercially available and it encompasses over half a million premises, 56,000 farms and 44,000 businesses.
In Waterford this includes areas such as Knockaderry, Ballylaneen, Mothel and Newtown. In total, 27% of all premises in Waterford will be passed and eligible for connection. The high-speed broadband is set to revolutionise working and home life for many who have had limited or congested connectivity up until now. Some of the many benefits of high-speed broadband include e-learning, remote monitoring of livestock or equipment, e-health initiatives, better energy efficiency in the home, more remote working and the availability of value bundle phone, TV and internet packages.
Commenting on the latest news, Gerald Hurley, Chief Executive of Waterford Chamber said “Waterford Chamber welcome the latest news regarding the investment commitment and move towards securing high-speed broadband for Waterford. The fact that 27% of the premises in the country still do not have access to high-speed internet in 2019 is creating huge problems in this digital era. There is a digital divide that currently exists between urban and rural Ireland. We must ensure that businesses in Waterford and the South East can compete on an even playing field with online competitors. Irish businesses in retail for example have seen a 40% drop in business mainly attributed to the success of online shopping. Intense efforts are being made to promote Waterford and the South East as a location which combines an exceptional work/life balance. To bring this to fruition, if we are to attract top companies to the region and to retain the existing highly skilled workforce, high-speed broadband is critical”.
Local business owner, Ciarán Cullen of HandHeld.ie further welcomes the news, “At HandHeld.ie we provide high tech software systems for mobile workers for the food production, engineering, medical and waste management sectors. Our range of easy-to-use software products allows businesses to easily track orders, trace ingredients, locate stock and eliminate costly paper procedures from the entire production-to-delivery process. We currently compete on a global basis from our base in Waterford City Enterprise Centre, to clients based in Europe, the UK, the US and of course throughout Ireland. We very much welcome the announcement by the National Broadband Plan to invest €65 Million in County Waterford, because we live in Passage East and would love to establish our business in the village. We’ve looked at a couple of premises in our local area but we cannot access the consistently powerful broadband that we need to provide technical assistance to access clients mobile devices with the current broadband that’s on offer in County Waterford. We have viewed a number of suitable local premises and the successful roll out of the National Broadband Plan investment will allow us to base our business in Passage East. Some of our staff live locally and a number of others would love to avail of the better value house prices that living and working in the area would allow them. An additional 12 or 15 staff that we bring into the area will be a small but significant boost to the local economy”.