How Ireland can benefit from fibre broadband
High-speed, fibre broadband across Ireland is quickly becoming a reality. How will this affect Ireland, and how has it been affecting communities? This article will explore this, and more.
Broadband plays a huge part in connecting people online.
Of all the broadband connection types, the most traditional way of getting broadband around Ireland was through copper cables.
However, copper cables have a slow data transmission rate, meaning slow broadband speeds for many people.
Fortunately, fibre broadband is being implemented across Ireland, thanks to the national broadband networks:
- National Broadband Ireland
- Virgin Media
- Open Eir
Let’s discuss how Ireland will benefit from this overhaul.
How important is fast broadband?
While Ireland receives fibre broadband, the EU has noted the importance of high-speed broadband in its EU Digital Decade campaign, which aims to improve:
- ICT (Information Communication Technology) skills
- Business transformation
- Secure and sustainable digital infrastructures
- The digitalisation of public services
Included in this campaign is the provision of high-speed broadband to European countries.
Connected hubs are repurposed buildings that provide fibre broadband where there is none.
If fibre isn’t in your area, there are 240 hubs nationwide that allow members to book a desk or meeting room.
International giant, Zoom, has stated that Ireland’s Connected Hubs are an example of how remote work should be done.
Fibre broadband in Ireland
In a 2022 report released by Ernst & Young (EY) on the impact of fibre broadband in Ireland, four key benefits were identified:
- Economic benefits
- Enterprise benefits
- Societal benefits
- Individual benefits
1. Economic benefits
It is estimated that the following economic benefits will come from fibre broadband:
- Balanced economic growth
- Stronger workforce
- Improved economic resilience
- More foreign investment in Ireland
- Cost benefits of retiring copper network
- Unlocking digital dividends
- Improving productivity
- Diversifying rural communities
- Reducing pressure on cities
A 2021 survey by EY found the following:
- 88% of workers would like to continue working remotely.
- 74% of companies will implement hybrid models over the next 2-3 years.
The study found that remote working will particularly benefit:
- Older workers
- Disabled workers
- Parents and carers
The National Broadband Plan (NBP) will expand the national workforce and bring unspecified economic benefits, such as reducing carbon emissions from commuters.
In a UK study by Openreach on the impact of fibre, it is estimated that fibre, along with remote work culture, could bring an additional one million people into the workforce by 2025, specifically:
- 250,000 older workers
- 300,000 working-age carers
- 400,000 parents of dependent children
The study estimates that this would contribute £25 billion to the UK Gross Value Added (GVA).
EY said that similar results could be expected here with a GVA contribution of €4 billion.
A survey in October 2020 found that 23% of workers would consider relocation to another part of Ireland, with 29% coming from Dublin.
This would benefit rural Ireland as remote workers could:
- Spend their money locally, resulting in more job opportunities.
- Increase demand for local services.
Workers relocating would also lessen high property costs and transport congestion in urban areas.
2. Enterprise benefits
In the UK, online shopping increased to 29.1% in 2019, jumping from 9.3% in 2012.
EY said that similar changes were likely to have occurred in Ireland.
In terms of business operations, fibre will save 40-60% on maintenance costs, as it has far fewer faults and outages compared to copper networks.
With this reliability, businesses can also provide more remote working options for employees, and create more processes and systems for maintenance purposes.
Around 66,000 enterprises in the NBI intervention area concern agriculture.
Faster broadband will allow these enterprises to access:
- Sensors for monitoring crops and livestock.
- Advanced analytics of processes and outputs.
- Robotics and autonomous vehicles for automating crop planting.
- Online trading platforms.
The Hands Free Hectare project in the UK has seen the first two crops in the world grown and harvested by unoperated machines.
In Ireland, 86% of farmers across Ireland agree that high-speed broadband is essential.
Of the farmers surveyed, it was found that:
- 61% said technology reduced administration
- 54% found that technology allows them to make informed decisions
Currently, 55% of farmers do not use new technology due to a lack of fibre broadband.
Tourism and Hospitality
With Ireland receiving a 56% rise in overseas trips and a 39% rise in domestic trips between 2009 and 2019, high-speed broadband is crucial.
For Irish hotels, research shows that Wi-Fi is important for 73% of guests and 84% of business travellers.
Fibre broadband throughout Ireland would allow guests to check-in before they even arrive, streamlining the process.
With fibre broadband available in rural areas of Ireland, more customers will also be attracted to those areas.
3. Societal benefits
EY reports that if more services are offered online, Irish citizens will be able to:
- Pay taxes
- Apply for grants
- Submit Government forms
- Access online health services
The Irish Government will also be able to:
- Commercialise public services
- Understand their citizens better
- Find solutions to policy challenges
- Provide more effective and efficient services
- Engage with external parties to develop new changes for Ireland
Regarding the health service, video appointments will become available to people living in rural areas without immediate access to transport.
This is already being used by GPs via a portal which allows video appointments, and has, for example, reportedly reduced the risk of Covid19 being spread via in-house visits.
EY noted that the pandemic exposed an education divide for students who do and do not have access to high-speed broadband.
This is especially true in households where multiple people are using the same, slow broadband.
Only 62% of schools in slow broadband areas delivered almost all classes online, compared to 90% of schools in areas with good broadband.
The study also found that students in slow broadband areas have less engagement than students in areas with good broadband.
In the UK Openreach study, one family reported that the faster broadband speeds have made it easier for their children to do their homework, and connect with the school curriculum.
Fibre broadband can allow family and friends to stay connected online and even to meet new people through social media or online communities.
The study by EY found that:
- Internet users were less likely to feel lonely and experienced higher levels of mental wellbeing.
- 72% of Irish adults aged over 50 use the internet for emails.
- 43% use the internet for audio and video calls.
- 40% use the internet to access social media.
A study carried out on Facebook community groups also found that:
- 91% of people had given someone a form of support in an online community.
- 86% of people received a form of support from someone in an online community.
In the UK, One Digital is a body established to tackle digital exclusion and teach people to use digital technology.
The group runs a “Tablet Loan Scheme” where elderly people are taught to use smart tablets independently and browse photos, contact loved ones, and join digital communities.
4. Individual benefits
Fibre broadband in slow broadband areas will reportedly enable households to use online streaming services, gaming platforms, and catch up services.
If you’re a gamer or movie streamer, with or without fibre, you should consider an unlimited broadband data plan.
92% of people in the NBI intervention area say that they would take up fibre broadband if it was available to them, and 81% of people in the rest of Ireland say the same.
Can fibre broadband get better?
Fibre broadband is very fast and can provide speeds of up to 1,000mbp (Megabits per second), or 1Gbp (Gigabits per second).
That’s enough for more than five people using a single broadband connection at the same time.
Could we ever reach a point where those broadband speeds aren’t enough though, and will fibre someday share the same fate as copper cables?
As we know, technology is always changing, and someday there could well be a new, more efficient, way to deliver broadband to homes.
Switch your broadband provider
Whether you do or don’t have fibre broadband, you should still consider switching broadband providers to save money.
You should also be switching banking, insurance, and energy providers to really make the most savings possible.
Study broadband for maximum savings
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- Start with our broadband Quickstart Guide to find the best offers.
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- Learn about broadband cancellations and the cooling-off period here.
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Talk to us
Do you know about other benefits of fibre broadband? Or maybe you have some questions? Let us know.