DUBLIN, Ireland - The Irish government on Tuesday signed a contract to implement its National Broadband plan.
The contract, which will bring high speed Internet access to 1.1 million people in rural areas will cost up to €3 billion.
Michael Ring, the Minister for Rural and Community Development was joined by the taoiseach and other cabinet ministers at the signing of the contract with National Broadband Ireland, the company which will deliver the project.
"Today marks a new dawn for the people who live and work in rural Ireland. The signing of the contract for the delivery of the National Broadband Plan in rural areas means that work can now commence on making high-speed Internet connectivity available to everyone in Ireland, no matter where they live, work or study," he said.
"This is a game-changer for rural Ireland. Internet access affects almost every aspect of the way we live and work today. As Minister for Rural and Community Development, I know that access to high-speed broadband will have a powerful, transformative effect on the lives of people and communities in rural areas. It will enable the diversification of rural economies and will provide businesses with opportunities to create new jobs and to access new markets."
"The Government's commitment to a maximum possible investment of €3 billion, to deliver the National Broadband Plan, reflects the importance we attach to the equitable economic and social development of our country," Ring said.
"With this commitment, we are making a clear statement that rural Ireland matters, that it is a sound investment, and that our nation's economic and social development relies as much on the contribution and creativity of rural dwellers as it does on those living in our cities."
The National Broadband Plan will deliver high-speed internet connectivity to 1.1 million people, 537,596 premises, 56,000 farms, 44,000 businesses and 695 schools, impacting rural communities, employment, education, skills and sustainable growth.
"High-speed connectivity will help to support remote working and will provide employers with access to some of the best and brightest talent in Ireland, regardless of where those workers are located," said the minister.
"Farmers will also benefit, as they will be able to better access new web-based agricultural technologies that will help them reduce waste, increase yields and protect soil quality and animal welfare."
The first connections under the plan will commence in 2020.