eir welcomes today’s announcement by Minister Denis Naughten which recognises our role in delivering high speed broadband to the great majority of homes and businesses in Ireland, as well as our continued commitment to this ongoing nationwide rollout.

Since June 2012, eir has invested close to €450 million in our Next Generation Access network to provide high speed broadband throughout Ireland. This has been a vital part of our overall capital expenditure of €1.5bn during the same period.

eir has now commenced an incremental investment programme, costing an additional €200m, which directly benefits rural Ireland.

With this incremental investment, eir will upgrade its infrastructure in 890 communities throughout the country, erecting new pole and fibre cable infrastructure along 23,000 kilometres of Irish roads, representing more than half the circumference of the world. The programme will be completed by the end of 2018, two years ahead of our initial deadline of 2020.

Significant progress has been made already, and we have passed the first 40,000 premises, a key milestone in our commitment to deliver services to over 300,000 additional premises. As a result of this initiative, the percentage of premises with access to high speed broadband will rise from 70% to 80% by the end of 2018.

Commenting on the announcement, Richard Moat, eir CEO, said “eir is investing in rural Ireland in one of the largest infrastructure projects in Ireland today. By the end of next year, over 300,000 additional homes, farms and businesses that currently only have access to basic broadband, or indeed no broadband at all, will have access to the fastest broadband speeds in Ireland, on par with the best broadband speeds available right throughout Europe. This will aid rural communities right across the country, removing a key barrier that has prevented people from remaining in rural Ireland, building their lives and businesses.

“We remain fully supportive of the Government’s strategy and the Minister’s personal commitment to ensure that all premises in Ireland will be supplied with high speed broadband, either by commercial operators such as ourselves, or through the Government’s National Broadband Plan as quickly as possible. Today’s announcement is an historic milestone in the development of Ireland’s key digital infrastructure with enormous potential for job-creation, social inclusion and rural regeneration.