Government to make high-speed broadband law under new USO pledge

The government says it intends to make high-speed internet law across the country to ensure private operators cover those caught between the state-subsidized rollout of the National Broadband Plan and the current private sector rollouts.

If the move, to be implemented through a new “universal service obligation,” comes into effect, Eir will likely be held legally responsible for providing gigabit fiber broadband to every household outside of the state-subsidized “intervention areas.” Eir is currently required to provide access to conventional telephone service across Ireland under the State’s Universal Service Obligation Act, which is implemented by the telecoms regulator Comreg.

A spokesman for Eir could not comment on the proposal.


Secretary Smyth has not defined what ‘reasonable’ broadband means. When the National Broadband Plan was introduced a decade ago, it rated 30Mbs as an acceptable broadband speed. Since then, the European Commission has stated that 100MB is the minimum that all European households should have.

Eir is currently upgrading most of its national network to fiber-to-the-home, which meets the government’s “gigabit” standard. The company has previously said this will eventually reach 1.9 million buildings.

However, it hasn’t said it will upgrade all non-NBP households. According to the government’s new promise, it could be forced to do so by law.

“When appropriate, we will intervene if the market fails to deliver or if the timing of expected commercial delivery does not meet the needs of the State,” said Secretary Ossian Smyth’s department policy statement today.

Under the National Broadband Plan, no household capable of receiving broadband speeds in excess of 30Mbs or 0.03Gbs qualifies to be part of the government-subsidized modern high-speed network. This has left thousands of homes feeling frustrated as neighbors across the street are upgraded to future-proof broadband services while they are left with older legacy systems.

“It is intended that this digital connectivity strategy will be dynamic, evolving and updated as necessary,” Secretary Smyth said in his policy statement. “New strategic enablers will emerge as demand for new services increases, the market evolves, technological advances are made and broader socio-economic impacts are felt. Therefore, this strategy is regularly reviewed and updated.”

The government also said that “all populated areas” will be “covered” by 5G by 2030 at the latest.

“Today’s strategy charts our path to reliable, high-speed internet access across Ireland by 2028,” said Minister Smyth. “We are investing heavily in government and private money in technology and infrastructure so that we can all work, learn and have access to entertainment and information wherever we live. This will ensure Ireland’s future as a great place to live and do business.” Government to make high-speed broadband law under new USO pledge

Fry Electronics Team

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