The National Broadband Plan (NBP) is the Government’s initiative to deliver high-speed broadband services to all premises in Ireland and ensures that every citizen and business, no matter where they are based, can progress together. The NBP will be delivered through investment by commercial enterprises coupled with intervention by the State in those parts of the country where private companies have no plans to invest. The NBP is critical to allow the digital divide narrative to evolve beyond network access limitations, onto device availability and training for those who need it.
Fergal Mulligan (NBP Programme Director at the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications) speaking at a recent ‘Total Telecom’ conference stated “We’ve been talking for the last 10 years about the digital divide, that was really about network availability but now the digital divide term has moved on to the availability of devices, education, and training. There is a significant cohort of people out there who simply do not have the technology we have, but it is not only putting devices into the hands of children who will rely on them for education, or elderly people using them for telemedicine, but in training them to use the equipment effectively.”
COVID-19 has demonstrated the necessity of a widespread high-speed broadband network. Huge numbers of workers migrated to remote working almost overnight in March 2020, with many remaining in this situation throughout 2020 and into 2021.