THE Border, Midland and Western Regional Assembly has welcomed the government announcement that every home in Ireland will have a minimum broadband speed but a broadband lobby group believes that the method for delivery will not be suited for rural areas.
The Minister for Communication, Pat Rabbitte, TD, launched ‘A New Broadband Plan for Ireland’ last week which aims to deliver a minimum broadband speed of 30Mbs to every house and business in Ireland no matter how remote over the lifetime of the current government, as part of the EU Digital Agenda.
By 2015, under the new National Broadband Plan (NBS), 50 per cent of the population will have speeds of between 70 and 100Mbps, a second section will have speeds of 40Mbps or better and the third band, where the private sector is not viable, will have speeds of 30Mbps.
Gerry Finn, Director of the BMW Regional Assembly welcomed the announcement which he said will be a significant boost and opportunity for Ireland’s rural and regional economy.
“By enhancing broadband speeds the impact will be to transform the landscape and environment for the provision of services, improvements can be targeted in areas such e-education, remote/e-health and e-government where particular challenges for service provision exist in rural areas.
“The Government’s commitment to deliver high-speed broadband to all households during their term of office, will place Ireland ahead of the European Union’s ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’ targets for high-speed broadband coverage, giving Irish regions a clear competitive advantage,” he said.
Mayo TD, John O’Mahony also welcomed the investment saying that high speed broadband was a basic requirement and will allow people in Mayo to ‘compete on a ‘much wider scale’.
While welcoming the ‘the broad intent’ of the announcement, IrelandOffline, a broadband lobby group, believe that the Minister has taken the wrong approach and the usage of ‘mobile solution’ will not deliver the speeds to rural areas.
“It is not possible to deliver any of these targets using any form of mobile access for a myriad of technical reasons. Most rural areas cannot be adequately served by 4G technology and will require a Fixed Wireless solution not a Mobile solution. This will require a clear commitment from Comreg to make available the required spectrum at a reasonable cost.
“Furthermore the current 4G licensing round does not permit RAN sharing (spectrum pooling) and the spectrum blocks assigned to operators are far too small to deliver 30Mbs and the licensing must therefore be revisited, particularly in rural areas, to allow operators to share spectrum/masts to provide meaningful speeds,” they stated.
They conclude that a mix of Fibre/Copper/Fixed Wireless and a small in fill of Mobile Wireless will be required to deliver the targets of the Digital Agenda for Europe.
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