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ESB will use its network to bring broadband to rural areas

The electricity provider looks set to enter the broadband market after new laws have been published by the Government.

An LTE tower. (File photo)
An LTE tower. (File photo)
Image: Shutterstock

THE ESB IS expected to enter the broadband market as the Government looks to allow them to use their electricity distribution network to provide telecoms services.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbittee this evening announced the publication of a bill that would allow for this, saying that it would benefit rural areas in particular.

Rabbittee said that the opportunity has been put forward by the ESB who are currently seeking a “joint venture partner with a view to providing such services on a wholesale only basis”.

The minister stressed that the ESB (Electronic Communications Networks) Bill 2013 merely enables the use of the electricity network for communications purposes but that he expects the ESB to publish the details of what they are proposing.

Rabbittee noted that commercial telecommunications providers are investing in Ireland but added some of this investment is not being spread evenly throughout the country:

Despite these welcome developments it remains the case that many towns, villages and communities, particularly in rural Ireland, will see very little of this investment.

Ireland’s widely dispersed population and topography means that there are some areas where it is simply not viable for the commercial sector to provide services.

Tonight’s news has been welcomed by several spokespeople from opposition parties, with  Sinn Féin TD Michael Colreavy describing broadband as an “almost essential utility for every household”

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“There are many areas in Ireland, most of them rural, which still do not receive an adequate broadband connection. The lack of broadband or poor service levels is becoming a constraint in accessing services,” he said.

Fianna Fáil TD Michael Moynihan also welcomed the legislation but has suggested an amendment to the legislation to ensure that customers are delivered what they have been promised:

It is my intention to bring forward an amendment to this legislation so that the services advertised by the broadband providers with regard to speed and quality are reflected by the actual speed and quality of the broadband the consumer receives.

Read: Every secondary school will have access to high-speed broadband by September say ministers >

Read: More than half of all households in Ireland have broadband >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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