Mr Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, and Mr Seán Canney TD, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, today (Friday, 26 June 2020) announced that Vodafone Ireland has been awarded the contract to provide retail broadband services to the nationwide network of Broadband Connection Points (BCPs).
Broadband Connection Points will provide free onsite high-speed internet access to the public and will be the first premises connected under the National Broadband Plan (NBP). They will bring much needed connectivity to some of the most isolated and rural communities in the country, including islands off Donegal, Kerry, Mayo, Galway and Cork.
Announcing the award of the contract to provide broadband services to the BCPs, Minister Ring said:
“I want to warmly welcome Vodafone Ireland’s involvement in the BCP initiative. Vodafone will work alongside National Broadband Ireland, the Local Authority Broadband Officers and site owners to bring early connectivity to rural areas as soon as possible, having regard to public health guidelines.
“The National Broadband Plan will ensure that there is equal and fair access to reliable high-speed broadband for everyone in the State. It will take time to reach all premises, but the BCP project will provide a head-start, and a much needed interim solution for approximately 300 communities with little or no connectivity.”
Typically, Broadband Connection Points are publicly accessible buildings, such as community centres and sports clubs. The owners and managers of these sites have volunteered their premises for community broadband use.
The first BCPs will become available for public use in the weeks ahead, with approximately 200 fully installed by the end of the year. An additional 100 sites will be connected in the early part of the New Year. National Broadband Ireland (NBI) have to date installed over 65 of these with internet connection points. Vodafone will provide and install the end user equipment.
Minister Ring continued:
“I commend all of the site owners, volunteers and community groups that have come on board to allow this initiative to happen. Many people will benefit as a result of the community spirit shown by all concerned.”
Speaking about the potential for BCPs as community assets, Minister Canney said:
“Firstly, I would like to congratulate Vodafone for winning this contract following a competitive process. It is clear to me that they appreciate the importance of this project and the very real need in rural Ireland for reliable connectivity.
“Connectivity will start to happen in the BCPs soon, and I strongly encourage communities to grasp this opportunity and to work together to ensure that the best use is made of it. Some 300 rural communities will get a jump-start on digital development, ahead of the full National Broadband Plan services arriving. These communities will be in the vanguard of the rural digital revolution.”
Anne O’Leary, CEO Vodafone Ireland, said:
“Vodafone Ireland is delighted to be awarded the contract for this important initiative, bringing our award winning connectivity to rural communities across the country. Now, more than ever, connectivity is vital to allow us to work, learn and play. The Broadband Connection Points will allow Ireland to continue to build towards a digital society of the future. As we look ahead to a post Covid-19 era, broadband connectivity will ensure that rural Ireland plays a key role in our economic recovery”.
The BCP initiative is a collaborative effort involving the Department of Rural and Community Development, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, and Local Authorities.
It is expected that the majority of BCP sites will be connected in 2020, with the potential for additional sites to be connected in early 2021.
BCPs will each have their own character and focus. Some will support remote working, others will facilitate study and digital skills training and many will act as community access hubs with indoors and outdoors wifi.
BCPs will be provided with a temporary wireless high-speed broadband connection (150mbps/30mbps) which they will keep for three years, or until they are provided with a permanent high-speed broadband connection under the NBP.
National Broadband Ireland (NBI) will act as the Wholesale Service Provider (WSP), while Vodafone Ireland will act as the Retail Service Provider (RSP).