National Broadband Plan Will Be a Gamechanger for Regional Development – Minister Humphreys

Dublin, Ireland, May 7th The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, today welcomed Government approval to appoint a Preferred Bidder for the National Broadband Plan.

The National Broadband Plan is a key commitment in the Programme for Government and is a core component of Project Ireland 2040 which is the overarching vision for the National Development Plan 2018-2027 and the National Planning Framework.

Speaking at the announcement of the Preferred Bidder for the National Broadband Plan, Minister Humphreys said:

“The internet and digital technologies are transforming our world in every walk of life and in every line of business. In Ireland and globally the economy is becoming increasingly digitalised due to the wide range of economic activities enabled by information and communications technology. If we are not fully prepared for this fourth industrial revolution, then as a country we will be left behind.


“I warmly welcome Government approval today of a Preferred Bidder for the National Broadband Plan. This is an important step towards delivering high-quality broadband to every home and business in this country.


“I firmly believe this project will be a gamechanger for rural Ireland and will be critical to supporting the attractiveness of regional locations for investment. The provision of high speed broadband is as important for businesses today as electricity and water.


“I have met numerous businesses across Ireland who are being hindered in their development by the lack of quality broadband. This reduces the ability to do business online and, in some cases, even to carry out simple everyday transactions such as using a card machine to make a payment. These are now basic requirements to run a business and as a Government we simply cannot abandon homes and businesses in rural locations where the private sector will not step in.


The Minister also noted the importance of the National Broadband Plan to delivering other ongoing Government strategies such as Future Jobs Ireland and the Regional Enterprise Plans.


“The National Broadband Plan will be vital for the delivery of Future Jobs Ireland as we prepare for the next stage of our economic development.


“High speed broadband will help diversify the rural economy and offer further options for flexible working arrangements, particularly remote working. We already have a number of companies in Ireland who offer remote working to their employees and this trend is only going to increase in the future.


“The ability to work in regional locations can help to take the pressure off our cities and can mean substantial savings for employees in terms of rents and property costs while also reducing the need to commute leading to a better work-life balance.


“Last year the National Competitiveness Council warned that the delivery of high-speed broadband across the country remained a clear, and ongoing, competitiveness concern. As a Government, that is a message we simply cannot ignore.


“The National Broadband Plan will be one of the largest investments in rural Ireland in the history of the State, akin to rural electrification.


“If it was cheap and easy to deliver high speed broadband up every laneway and bóithrín in this country, then the commercial sector would have done it a long time ago. That hasn’t happened and so today the Government has made the decision to intervene to ensure that over one million people in rural Ireland are not treated as second class citizens. We have made a decision to end what is, at present, a digital divide in this country between those who have broadband and those who do not.


“If we are serious about regional development then, as a country, this is something we simply cannot afford not to do.”