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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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Fear rural customers left "high and dry" as €223m National Broadband Scheme ends

The scheme is government sponsored and aims to bring broadband to areas where it wasn’t available before.

Image: Broadband via Shutterstock

A SCHEME SET up to bring broadband to rural areas is set to finish towards the end of this month – and customers could find themselves paying more for less monthly data.

National Broadband Scheme

The government awarded mobile phone company Three the contract to provide broadband to the areas under the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) for rural areas in December 2008.

The National Broadband Scheme cost €223m to implement, and the government contributed €79.8m to the cost of the project, said Three.

The NBS roll-out was completed by October 2010.

Approximately 234,000 residential, commercial and business premises receive broadband connectivity under the NBS, Three said, in 1.028 electoral divisions throughout the country.

Under the NBS, Three offered a minimum download speed of 2.3bps, and a minimum upload speed of 1.4Mbps.

A data cap of 40GB per month and a satellite data cap of 11GB per month stood.

It was €20.32 per month for the 40GB data allowance, with satellite charged €20.32  and 11GB per month.

Galway (111), Kerry (85), Cork (96) and Mayo (112) have the most customers per county affected by the NBS change.

New plans

Three said that when the NBS contract expires, the broadband plan will change to Three’s Broadband Active plan.

This is a rolling plan with 15GB of data allowance.

Alternatively, customers can sign up for the Pro account, which offers 60GB for €34.99:

three Source: Three

Three also said :

Minimum speeds will no longer be guaranteed under your new plan, but there’s no need to worry, you shouldn’t experience any change to your service. The Service Level Agreement (SLA) between Three and you under the NBS Scheme including minimum service standards, orders and installation standards, fault restoration times, engineer visits and service rebates no longer apply, but rest assured that we’ll always work to resolve any issue you have as quickly as possible.

One customer told TheJournal.ie she felt that “in real terms they want us to pay more money for less service and less data allowance”.

Along with that no one in my area can receive a service from a line based operator such as Telecom Eireann because all of our lines are shared. You need one line to your property to avail of line based broadband…

She said there are no locally based services to avail of either.

She said she feels that customers have been “left high and dry” by the Minister of Communications, with “[nothing] in place to ensure our broadband is operational”.

In April, the then Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte TD, announced that the Government has committed to a major telecommunications network build-out to rural Ireland, with fibre as a cornerstone of its investment under the National Broadband Plan.

Read: Kilkenny, Loughrea and Ardee up next to become fibre towns>

Read: Sorry, country folk: Still a huge divide between urban and rural internet speeds>

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