Rural rejuvenation is near the top of every government’s list of priorities, writes David McCourt, Chairman of National Broadband Ireland.
Why? Because despite some truly remarkable infrastructure projects over the last decade, rural areas around the globe are still way behind in terms of connectivity, even in the developed world. The need for equal access to vital services has never been more important.
Getting these major infrastructure projects right is an age-old challenge. In the 2023 book How Big Things Get Done by Oxford professor Bent Flyvbjerg and bestselling author Dan Gardner, a review of more than 16,000 ‘mega projects’ from 20 plus different fields in 136 countries concluded that 99.5 per cent of projects go over budget, over schedule, and fail to meet the original objectives.
It is a staggering figure but easy to see why with so many mega projects breaking new ground. Despite this daunting backdrop, progress in major infrastructure projects is the only way forward.
In 2019, Ireland joined a tiny elite group that made it a human right to have high speed broadband available to every man, woman, and child in the country through its National Broadband Plan. It was a brave and long-term vision that once again showed proof of Ireland’s leadership. Stepping forward with an ambitious infrastructure plan to rollout futureproofed fibre broadband to every home, farm, school, and business in rural areas that has been underserved by commercial operators, the Government of Ireland started to map a blueprint for other nations across Europe and the rest of the world to follow.
It should not come as any surprise when you look at Ireland’s track-record. Ireland was bold in its electrification of the country, and recently with its road network. Ireland was the first country in the world to institute a nationwide comprehensive smoke-free workplace law. Ireland was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote. The free education scheme of the 1960s led to what we have today, which is a country that, at last measure, had the highest share of population in Europe with university graduates. Despite European Union protests, Ireland developed a very business friendly tax scheme to attract the largest companies in the world to set up shop, hire, train and employ thousands of Irish people.
Ireland has had one of the fastest growing GDPs in the European Union every year for the past two decades. All this success came the hard way, by policymakers making difficult decisions and sticking with them, supported by the business community.
National Broadband Plan in top 0.5 per cent of mega projects
Ireland’s National Broadband Plan is huge project born out of incredibly bold and forward-thinking policy decisions, demonstrating tremendous leadership from policymakers which will be respected the world over.
Stretching across 96 per cent of the country’s land mass, at NBI we are laying enough fibre to go around the world nearly four times, deploying fibre on approximately 1.5 million poles – many of them new, over 15,000 km of underground ducts, and will run along almost 100,000 km of the road network. As the largest public private partnership in European telecoms, Ireland’s National Broadband Plan is of a size and scale that is unprecedented and requires collaboration across the public and private sectors to expedite the roll out in the national interest.
“Ireland’s National Broadband Plan proudly sits in the top 0.5 per cent of global mega projects for being on budget, on schedule, and still delivering against its original objectives.”
This is about radically changing the broadband landscape across the country to ensure that every person in Ireland has access to high-speed broadband, no matter where they live or work. It is quite an incredible feat and it is already proving to be transformational for Ireland.
Since work on the NBP started with boots on the ground in early 2020, tremendous progress has been made despite the extreme challenges that faced the project – and indeed every major infrastructure project – throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
With progress on the project hurtling towards having 200,000 homes, farms, and business available to connect to the new NBI network, Ireland’s National Broadband Plan proudly sits in the top 0.5 per cent of global mega projects for being on budget, on schedule, and still delivering against its original objectives.
NBI will ultimately serve over 569,000 premises and is accelerating in all phases of the rollout of this ambitious infrastructure project to now be ahead of the schedule set for NBI by government.
Once completed, all parts of Ireland will have access to a modern and reliable broadband network, capable of supporting the communications, information, education, and entertainment requirements of current and future generations. The sustainable future of rural Ireland is in NBI’s hands, and it will empower every individual, community, and organisation with equal access to local and global opportunities. NBI will create a limitless Ireland, the rest is up to you.
Check if your premises is included in the National Broadband Plan and receive Eircode specific updates at www.nbi.ie.
David McCourt is the founder and CEO of Granahan McCourt Capital and the Chairman of National Broadband Ireland. He is the author of bestseller Total Rethink: Why Entrepreneurs Should Act Like Revolutionaries and is an Emmy award-winning TV producer.