Broadband rollout in Kilkenny ‘still dragging’ as one councillor must go up a hill to send an email

Darren Hassett

Reporter:

Darren Hassett

Email:

darren.hassett@kilkennypeople.ie

Kilkenny Kilkenny Kilkenny

“Still dragging” at a critical stage for the county as one councillor has to go up Spa Hill to send a large email

The broadband rollout in Kilkenny is “still dragging” at a critical stage for the county as one councillor has to go up Spa Hill to send a large email.

Steve Coverdale, Broadband Officer for Kilkenny County Council, gave an update to Castlecomer councillors on the Open Eir Rural Fibre to the Home Project.

The company – which has just been sold to a French owner – was originally due to complete the project for 300,000 premises nationwide by the end of this year but the estimated completion date is now May, 2019.

The delay was due to Storm Emma and other adverse weather conditions.

Light-blue areas on the broadband map are where Eir has committed to commercial rural deployment plans to rollout high speed broadband. In total, the project will service 5,915 premises across Kilkenny.

Mr Coverdale told members that the timing of things is a big issue in a lot of light-blue areas with many areas supposed to be passed already but there are difficulties in getting the infrastructure on the ground.

Meanwhile, subcontractors are not being appointed until the contract for the National Broadband Plan is signed and commercial operators won’t touch anything in the blue areas until that happens, he added.

Blue areas are where commercial operators are delivering or have indicated plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

It is understood the delay in some of the blue areas is due to them possibly being absorbed into the amber areas – which will be part of the NBP.

When the contract is awarded for the NBP the contractor could be starting in 50/60 places at the same time and could do that if they gear themselves up to do it.

The Council official said it has taken five or six years to get to this point and it is “still dragging” but once the broadband plans are signed off it will gather momentum for the blue areas in particular.

The contract for the NBP is expected to be awarded in September of this year.

Cllr Maurice Shortall said Comer is at a critical stage with the Avalon Hotel opening later this year and is already taking bookings – with the majority of these online.

Cllr Mary Hilda Cavanagh said she often has to drive to the top of Spa Hill in Johnstown to send a long email.

Members were told that the infrastructure for telecoms in Ireland is privately owned and unless it’s commercially viable the private enterprises won’t provide the service. Mr Coverdale said: “If we owned it, it should’ve been done 20 years ago.”