There is a need for further investment in broadband to support enterprise and jobs growth across the West, according to the Western Development Commission (WDC).
The recommendation is contained in a new report, Connecting the West: Next Generation Broadband in the Western Region, which examines the likely roll-out of next generation broadband services.
It also makes recommendations to ensure next generation access for all areas and better value for money for State investment in infrastructure.
Acting WDC CEO Ian Brannigan noted that many rural areas are “barely able to access a service, let alone avail of a high speed service now available to their city counterparts”.
“The evidence from across the region presented in this report indicates that in many areas broadband services lag those that are available elsewhere in the country, for example, the Western Region accounts for 18 per cent of the households in Ireland but accounts for 28 per cent of applicants to the Rural Broadband Scheme (RBS), highlighting the weaker broadband services there.”
The WDC report notes that the value of next generation broadband infrastructure is that it can make geographic distance to customers far less relevant and provides easy access to worldwide markets.
The recently published National Broadband Plan Delivering a Connected Society sets out targets for next generation broadband delivery, but with “little detail on how it is to be delivered”, according to the WDC.
The WDC report argues that next generation broadband will need additional State investment to ensure it is available in all regional and rural areas.
The WDC has also argued that, though it may require additional investment, fibre to the home or kerb should be the preferred technology for towns with a population of 1,500 or more.
“This will ensure the best return to the State and national economy over the medium to long term,” according to the statutory body.