THERE was a high percentage of Midlands applicants for the Rural Broadband Scheme. The Midland Region, containing 6% of the population of the state, accounted for over 18% of applications received by the DCENR.
The RBS was established to identify individual premises that cannot obtain a broadband service (and that are not currently covered by existing schemes) and to ascertain whether existing telecommunications operators can provide a service directly to these premises. In instances where an existing service provider cannot be identified, the Department will proceed to procure such a service as part of the scheme.
The Scheme was established by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture as a measure under the Rural Development Plan using funding from the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development. The combination of private and public sector programmes in the broadband market will ensure that Ireland reaches the EU target of ubiquitous basic broadband access ahead of the 2013 deadline.
The Midland Regional Authority and constituent Local Authorities played an active and valuable role in raising public awareness of the Scheme during the Application Phase which ran from 9 May to 29 July 2011.
Once processing of applications is completed, the Verification Phase of the Scheme will commence. Under this phase efforts will be made to obtain a service for those who have applied under the Scheme from commercial Internet Service Providers under existing market terms. This process is expected to run through to January 2012 at least. If internet service providers confirm that a particular applicant cannot be served at present, the Rural Broadband Scheme will seek to offer a service through whichever company is successful in bidding for the RBS procurement contract.
The procurement process is expected to commence toward the end of October and will aim to identify the preferred supplier. Pending contract negotiations a service provider will be appointed in early 2012.
Rollout of the service under the Scheme is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.