The National Broadband Plan (NBP) is an initiative set out by the Government to deliver high-speed broadband services to all premises in Ireland with a particular focus on rural and hard-to-reach areas in which commercial broadband providers are currently not operating.
The main goal of the NPB is to make broadband with a standard base speed of at least 30Mbps available to all premises in Ireland, no matter how rural or remote.
The plan will be delivered through a combination of commercial and State led investment. Once completed, all parts of Ireland will have access to a modern and reliable broadband network, capable of supporting current and future generations.
According to the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment today over seven in 10 premises have access to high-speed broadband from commercial broadband operators. Most of the covered premises are located in more urban and regional areas around the country.
This leaves approximately 540,000 premises where commercial broadband operators are not providing a service. These homes and businesses are located in what is known as the State intervention area, which is what the National Broadband Plan is targeting. They are generally located in remote or rural areas.
Depending on the region or area of Ireland that you live in, the maximum possible broadband speeds available can range from between 24Mbps for an ASDL connection to 1,000Mbps with a pure fibre or fibre-to-the-home connection.
The maximum capable speed in a given area is generally dependent on the age and sophistication of the infrastructure that delivers it. New infrastructure capable of delivering ultra-fast speeds via fibre-to-the-home connections are being rolled out all the time across the country by the likes of Eir and SIRO but there are still many areas of the country where a fast and reliable connection is not available.
There are currently four major broadband providers (as well as several smaller providers) operating in Ireland. These are Eir, Vodafone, Virgin Media and Sky. The good news is that if you live in a city or large town the chances are a broadband service will be available to you from one or more of these providers.
Once you look outside the main towns and cities into more rural areas, things get a little tricky when it comes to finding a decent broadband connection.
The Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment provides an interactive broadband coverage map which is updated quarterly to show progress of both the NBP and broadband coverage in general.
It is colour coded in amber, light blue and blue to show areas included in the National Broadband Plan, areas where Eir has committed to rolling out high-speed broadband to 300,000 new premises, and areas where commercial operators are delivering or have indicated plans to deliver high-speed broadband services respectively.