A key principle of the NBP is to support and stimulate commercial investment through policy and regulatory measures. This has acted as a catalyst to commercial investment by the telecommunications sector.
Since the publication of the NBP in 2012, the commercial telecommunications sector has invested over €2.75bn. This was spent on upgrading and modernising networks which support the provision of high speed broadband and mobile telecommunications services.
Significant additional investment is expected over the next 2 years. Today over 1.6m or 69% of premises in Ireland can access commercially available high speed broadband services. This will rise to 1.8m or 77% by the end of 2018. The Department estimates that by 2020 approximately 2.1m or in excess of 90% of premises will have access to high speed broadband.
Various players in the market have ramped up the speed of their rollout, for example:
- SIRO is investing €450m to provide fibre broadband to 500,000 premises across 51 towns on an open access basis, while enet and SSE are investing €100m in pure fibre broadband to 115,000 premises in the West and North West. In a recent development, Airwire joined Siro as its latest fibre retail partner in December 2017.
- Virgin, currently serving 800,000 premises, is investing high speed broadband rollout to a further 200,000 premises.
- Imagine have started to deploy high speed enhanced broadband services using advanced LTE Fixed Wireless technologies particularly in rural and other more remote areas previously considered not to be commercially attractive.
The BLUE areas in the High Speed Broadband Map cover about 1.6m premises. These are areas where commercial operators have rolled out a high speed broadband network or have previously committed to delivering high speed broadband. So far, approximately 1.6m premises in the BLUE areas can get high speed broadband of a minimum of 30 Megabits per second.
The LIGHT BLUE areas represent areas where a commercial operator (eir) has committed to deliver High Speed Broadband access to 300,000 rural premises by the end of 2018. This commitment is on a fully commercial basis. The Commitment Agreement is available here. This brings the total number of premises in the BLUE area to 1.8m.