ROLL-OUT of high-speed broadband to more than 7,000 premises in Carlow moved one step closer as the government announced that progress on the contract for the National Broadband Plan (NBP) is at an advanced stage. This is welcome news for homes and businesses adversely affected by a lack of broadband, many of which have been lobbying local representatives for years to get the same service as their city counterparts.
The high-speed broadband roll-out will cover the remaining 28% of premises in the county.
Carlow will receive an investment of €31 million to provide fibre broadband to 7,875 homes in the specified intervention area. This is a mapped rural area where currently high-speed broadband is not commercially available, and it encompasses more than half-a-million premises, 56,000 farms and 44,000 businesses. This includes areas such as Kilbride, Corries Cross and Myshall.
Commenting on the latest news, Brian O’Farrell, chief executive of Carlow Chamber of Commerce, said: “County Carlow chamber welcomes the commitment to roll-out high-speed broadband across the county, helping to ensure that businesses are in a stronger position to connect and compete both locally and globally.
“We cannot afford to have a divide between a business operating in rural and urban areas; the quality and access to a high-speed connection needs to be there for everyone. With the initial investment of €31 million set to connect 28% of the premises in the county, it is vital that the next phase is carried out without delay to ensure 100% connectivity”.
Anne Kelly of AK Graphics, Carlow, whose business relies heavily on broadband, also welcomed the news.
“Thankfully we currently have 5G at AKGraphics, but we do pay a heavy price to have that and it would be great to see that cost reducing in the future. We could not function as a business without quality broadband, but it’s good to hear the investment plan for Carlow. Let’s hope this is rolled out throughout the county of Carlow.”
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 is the preferred bidder for the contract and taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already indicated that he would like to have the contract signed by mid-September. Once that hurdle has been cleared, the first homes could be passed and connected by early autumn next year.