Hutchison 3G Ireland ('3') has won a contract from the Irish government to develop a national broadband network covering rural areas of the country. Ireland currently has over 1.2 million subscribers to broadband. The National Broadband Scheme will provide the remaining 10% of the population, or approximately 33% of the area of the country, with broadband services. Ireland will have 100% coverage by September 2010; half of the area under the scheme will be covered by the end of this year.
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Source: Cellular News.
Investment of €223 million from a combination of Exchequer funds, EU co-financing and '3' will create 170 direct jobs. Hundreds more will be protected and created as the availability of broadband increases the investment and enterprise in the targeted areas.
'3' will extend its mobile network to provide mobile wireless broadband services into the NBS area. Initially, the service will have a minimum download speed of 1.2 mbps. At least, two upgrades of speeds are planned during the lifetime of the contract. These product upgrades will be carried out at no cost to the customer.
Announcing the scheme, Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said, “For too long, rural Ireland has been without this essential service. Today’s announcement is a boost for the rural economy. Now businesses throughout the country can have ready access to the national and international markets. Employment will be created and sustained. Quality of life will improve for rural residents and communities will be strengthened."