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The government has subsequently reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that all of rural Ireland benefits from the same access to opportunities afforded to businesses in urban areas because of high-speed broadband.

Work on the new €3bn National Broadband Plan will begin immediately by the National Broadband Ireland (NBI) consortium, with the aim of implementing high-speed broadband for over 90% of rural premises in the State within the next four years.

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, insisted that the National Broadband Plan would ensure that no area of Ireland is left behind when it comes to services and job opportunities created online.

Mr Varadkar admitted that had he not signed the contract for the National Broadband now, it could have put the proposals in jeopardy for a further five years.

“This contract means that every home, school, farm and business in Ireland will get access to high speed broadband,” said Varadkar.

“No part of the country will be left behind in securing the jobs and opportunities of the future.

“And, as we know, the future is already here in our daily lives with online access offering ever more opportunities for living and working.

“Broadband will be the biggest investment in Rural Ireland ever. We can have more people working from home, a better work-life balance, fewer car journeys, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

“We can connect better with the world, with family members, with business, with new ideas and new ways of doing things.”

The early focus of the National Broadband Plan will be to provide 300 broadband connection points in rural community areas, including community centres, GAA clubs and public libraries that can offer free high-speed broadband in these shared hubs while people await the installation of high-speed connectivity in their own homes.

It has been reported that the west and Midwest of rural Ireland will be the first ports of call, with over half-a-million premises set to receive high-speed connectivity by the end of 2020.

It’s hoped that 95% of the rural Ireland population will receive high-speed broadband by the end of year five of the project.

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