Areas across Offaly currently without broadband access will be connected by the end of 2010, the Government has pledged.
Places like Ballycumber, and Doon in West Offaly, Clonbullogue, Walsh Island, Cloneygowan and Bracknagh in North Offaly and Clareen and Coolderry in South Offaly along with Killurin will benefit from the scheme.
It follows an announcement by Communications Minister Eamon Ryan earlier this week that he had entered into a contract for the delivery of this scheme with 3.
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, the Minister said.
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 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, Minister Ryan said, 'For too long, rural Ireland has been without this essential service. This 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.'
Any fixed residential or business customer located within the NBS coverage area can apply for broadband services from 3 Ireland. There are approximately 223,000 buildings located within the NBS coverage area, covering 1028 electoral divisions.
The product provided by 3 Ireland will cost €19.99 per month with a connection fee of €49 which includes the cost of the necessary equipment.
Wireless mobile broadband services will be provided in the NBS area with approximately 8% of areas receiving a satellite service.
An uncharged monthly data cap of 15GB (12GB download and 3GB upload) will apply for the wireless product while 11GB (10GB download and 1GB upload) will be available for satellite users.
The schedule for roll-out is 21 months and the first services will be deployed in spring 2009.
Rural areas to be forced to wait at least another 20 months for full broadband roll-out, despite another announcement last week by the Minister in relation to the National Broadband Scheme.
Although welcoming the announcement,
Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael Deputy James Bannon questioned the delivery of the scheme.
'For a year now the Minister has been promising that the National Broadband Scheme is the answer to the provision of broadband countrywide but has in fact been doing very little to make this a reality.'
He said in the in the Longford/Westmeath constituency and across the midlands, the lack of broadband provision was a serious handicap to economic development and despite many commitments and much fanfare as yet one initiative after another is announced, the Minister has repeatedly failed to deliver.
'Minister Ryan promised that everyone in the country would have broadband capacity by the end of 2009 but this schedule has now been pushed back by 12 months, once again to the detriment of rural areas. Of particular concern is the fact that the proposed broadband roll-out is based on mobile broadband on a mobile network. This could be a token solution to a major problem and could in fact be very little use as mobile speeds are frequently below maximum advertised speed.'