National Broadband Scheme Launch

The Department of Communications invited me along to the launch of the National Broadband Scheme yesterday after I emailed them and asked them to invite me. Like the people who nominated themselves for blog awards, I was shocked and surprised at getting invited.

And the scheme? Lovely use of numbers to talk about this major investment. Minister Eamon Ryan talked about how all these new people on broadband will lift the whole economy in these dark days

He talked about his own web company he ran from his bedroom on dialup 10 years ago and I thought that’s exactly the speed some people are getting now and will still get with a mobile dongle at the edge of a broadband scheme area. Working from home is great though, pants being optional is fantastic. Wearing suits all day must be a killer for the Minister.

Anyway, if the vision of a nation of small businesses operating online is to come true then they’ll need something a damned sight better than a 3G dongle. I know some businesses do operate using one but they can basically handle email and very light web surfing. An office with 5-6 computers though? And only allowed one connection? Or do they pay for 1 per computer? 100 euros a month for a connection that a business in Dublin can get for 20 euros.

If you can’t get a 3G signal then they’ll give you a satellite dish and you still pay €19.99 per month for about 1Mbps down and a 15 Gig download limit. 8% of those under the scheme will get this and I’m sure given the cost of it, Three and the Department will do their best to give you a dongle when a satellite dish might be better.

This is the reality of rural life and broadband. Let’s see what Dave’s story is like in a year or two years or three years.

And for those in areas that the Department said are already covered? Yesterday the tone was polite but they were still saying “tough shit”. The Department said that they can’t subsidise people where there are line of sight issues with Irish Broadband or Digiweb or line failure issues with eircom. These apparently are technical issues and are up to the providers to sort out. The Department said the EU won’t let them subsidise, which again I’d argue is not correct. Once a statement from said ISP says they can’t supply to that person, then they can be subsidised. That’s what I read in the docs the EU sent to the Department.

So, for those who will still be shafted, one way of getting broadband is to find a friend who is in an NBS area and will be getting a dish not a dongle. Then have this friend either order another connection for the barn next door or get your friend’s neighbours not interested in a broadband connection to order one. A satellite installer will happily move it and reinstall it to your place.

Read more about NBS here.

30 Responses to “National Broadband Scheme Launch”

  1. Joe Breen says:

    Why didn’t you say all this on the RTE News? It seem in the interview you did that what the goverment are offering was acceptable to you.

    This “offering” is another kick in the ringpiece for all us that have been trying to get broadband for over 4 years. This offering is NOT near broadband speed.

    It’s also laughable that RTE head off to the West of Ireland as if that’s the only region without broadband. Come to Wexford – now an hour from the big city – NO BROADBAND IN MANY PARTS.

  2. Daily Spud says:

    I wonder what the Minister’s old web company did exactly? (not a lot on a dialup connection…) These days, being at the mercy of a dongle connection just doesn’t cut it, and that’s the reality in rural Ireland. Doesn’t sound like much is going to change, then…

  3. Hi Damien,

    Thanks for the mention.

    I did in fact run, what was at the time, a fairly busy e-commerce web site from Allihies a few years ago for a short while and because it was an extremely optimized site (all text, no images), selling genealogy records, we managed to function on a ISDN 128k line.

    We had two people on-line updating the web-shop and processing orders. But in the end it was not feasible and I had to relocate the business to the UK. Another few jobs were lost to the area which has and had very high unemployment.

    Areas of Beara have been identified, even during the ‘years of the tiger’ as being severely socially and economically deprived and the communication infrastructure is therefore of massively crucial importance. It has been seem in many situations around the world that isolated communities benefit immediately and in many ways from communications.

    As I said in my article; ‘why are we the last to be served when we are in the most need?’.

    All the best Dave

    Good 15 minute talk on TED here about communications enabling development:

  4. Joe Scanlon says:

    Ireland is in such a sad state on broadband. Too chances of ever getting it in Brosna. “after I emailed them and asked them to invite me” kinda sums it up. Fucking joke. Yera you know yourself, that whole “computer thing” will never catch on.

  5. […] ME: If a physical branch network is important. Co-opt the post office network. Or the credit union network. If internet access is important. Support internet cafes. Such an approach would be a snug fit with the government’s policy of support rural Ireland and the roll out of the national broadband scheme… […]

  6. Al says:

    Most of the time I think even the ‘dongle solution’ would be great. Here in Currane, Achill, we are listed as having broadband (of the local wireless with satellite uplink variety). While it’s true that there is a dish and the associated equipment, and it’s connected to the internet, the performance is woeful (I’m being kind). It really should not be described as broadband, for broad it is not.

    Not only are there the latency issues that cannot be avoided with this uplink technology, but the reliability and speed of the connection are a joke. Every now and then – maybe half a dozen times a year, in the middle of the night and for a couple of hours only – the system hits the dizzying heights of 2 or 3Mb/s. The rest of the time it is little better than (single channel) ISDN, and often worse.

    Then there are the connection dropouts. Could happen up to, oh I dunno, 20 times a day, the connection vanishes completely for a minute or two. It’s happened twice while writing this comment. If you are downloading at the time, well just start again. Not so bad if it’s just your email but if it’s a 200MB ‘system patch’ then you’ve just wasted half a day.

    VOIP is, of course, hopeless thanks to the latency. Oh and then there’s coverage. It’s supposed to cover the whole village but it’s line-of-sight wireless from the satellite basestation and I’d guess that 75% of the village don’t have this line-of-sight. Nor do they have 3G coverage or phoneline DSL. So they have nothing now, and it looks like they will get nothing in the future.

    I feel sorry for anyone who ends up with a satellite connection under the NBS as they will go through the excitement of ‘being connected’ but end up with frustration and despair.

  7. Evert Bopp says:

    I wonder if in the name of a “fair and open market” if they will try to enforce some form of LLU on the network? 😉

  8. Donnchadh says:

    Not going for this gig then?

    By the way – good to meet you the other night.

  9. Call me a prick for giving the typical Irish answer, but this just might do, it just might do.

  10. […] and eircom broadband comreg Tags: national broadband scheme, NBS Bernie & Damien write about the recently started fiasco called the National Broadband Scheme. I have been seething […]

  11. […] he gave a more positive response to it in the television interview than he does on his blog article National Broadband Scheme Launch. Maybe I am wrong about this, because I only saw the television interview […]

  12. @Donnchadh – Ha Ha


    National Broadband Scheme PR Manager

    Location: Dublin 2
    Deadline: 18 Feb 2009
    Company: 3

    3 is Ireland’s fastest growing mobile network and the PR team is growing just as fast! As a result we have some exciting new positions to fill. Recently the Government announced that 3 had won the contract to provide broadband connectivity to rural Ireland under the National Broadband Scheme. So we’re looking for a red hot PR manager to take on this important and exciting new role….

    …Crisis and reputation management..

  13. I would seem that the government should perhaps consider following the example of the US. Look at the options of reallocating the broadcasting frequencies (as has been discussed before at national level) and allow for a ‘band’ of the White Space television spectrum to be allocated to high speed data transmission i.e. wireless mesh technology.

    As a country who still has a nationally operated postal, telephone and power networks, there are at least three existing infrastructures that such a system could be overlayed.

    I’ll admit, the technology is not without its flaws, and while it is still in its infancy, it surely offers the best results for the level of investment?

    Plus, lets face it, how much of the population is still recieving their tv signal by terrestrial broadcast? Surely NTL, SKY etc. have moved most homes over to a cable or satellite system?

  14. hammie says:

    Same problems in Australia. And the 3G roll out seems to have made it worse. We were standing on the deck waving mobiles trying to send texts until I bought a builders phone in the supermarket with non 3G capacity and sim. No problems then.
    The o2 dongle I brought didnt work (and I was scared of roaming charges) and the state telecom TELSTRA dongle I then bought did work, but as you say was erratic and suitable only for light surfing. Ate up the credit too.

    The Australian government is subsidising broadband for students however as they see it as an investment in a smarter net savvy future workforce.
    Wonder will such a thing be considered here?

  15. Colin says:

    I was hopeful on hearing about the NBS that broadband would finally become available to me but it seems that this is yet another false dawn.

    What happens if you live in an area whose local exchange is not going to be upgraded by eircom AND is not covered by any other broadband option (appart from satellite) AND is not covered by the NBS??!! A rhetorical question I know. I’m screwed.

  16. […] a disgrace. Minister Eamon Ryan’s Broadband Promises and national broadband scheme are […]

  17. Fergal says:

    correct me if i am wrong but the sattellite three are going to use for the sites their mobile internets cant reach has not been blasted into orbit yet! the rocket required for this is not even built yet.

  18. James says:

    Just on the NBS, just thought you might be interested in my experience ordering from Three.

    The telesales and support phone lines are outsourced to some country that does sound like it is within the EU, they are very hard to understand and just read from a script.

    The colour modem I ordered was not in stock, I didn’t care what colour just picked the first one in the list, but they didn’t inform me I had to ring up about the order to see when it was going to be delivered. I am getting it for my in-laws and wanted them to have it for the weekend so i could set it up for them they won’t have it for the weekend.

    They also debited my credit card 2 days before they have even dispatched anything.

  19. Nigel Renshaw says:

    I bought a modem for 49 euro and for a month it never worked even with a booster. Waited in anticipation when Satellite dish installed. What a load of rubbish, it very rarely provides BROADBAND speeds. How can a company like 3 be employed by the Irish Government to provide broadband on a National Broadband Scheme when they do not have the now how to provide this service. Have waited over ten tears for Broadband in Ireland and will wait another ten years?

  20. National Broadband Disaster says:

    So we are about 11 months away from the official launch date for the National Broadband Scheme. – Mark my words, 3 will never deliver on time.

    3 meg will be the backhaul speed. We continue to watch and wait –

  21. Mike says:

    A picture is worth a thousand words…

    … enough said.

  22. Fergal says:

    @Nigel Renshaw, did three install a sattellite dish for you? what sattellite are you using? i was not aware that they now had their sattellite service operational.

  23. National Broadband Disaster says:


    You are only on 3’s standard commercial service, as NBS has not officially launched yet. Not to say that your experience will be any better when they do launch though! – I still reckon that 3 will never complete this project.

  24. Nigel Renshaw says:

    Fergal, yes 3 installed a ViaSat SurfBeam Satellite Modem and dish after the dongle failed to work for 6 weeks. It is great when it works and rubbish when it doesn’t but I suppose we have to accept this in rural Ireland? Hope this helps you. Took numerous phone calls to Mumbai before I got the Satellite.

  25. Joe Breen says:

    Take Sweden – a not dissimilar terrain to Ireland – yet they are very soon going to be offering 80 MB as a matter of right to ALL their citizens. Finland has already offered 20 MB as a matter of right to every citizen.

    Sweden are also rolling out a 4G network to cover the whole of the country.

    This is thinking ahead whereas the dumbasses here are not.

    See the link:

  26. Nigel Renshaw says:

    Im back on again my Satellite broadband is pants at the moment. Havent used same much the last week or so but when switching on tonight the download speed is between .45 mbs and .68 mbs, this to me does not constitute BROADBAND and I feel that we in Ireland are once again being ripped off?

  27. Nigel Renshaw says:

    Back again tried to use my Satellite Broadband again tonight after very little use over Christmas, started at 1.49 mbs when I started watching Sky player ended watching Sky player at 0.14 mbs, again does this constitute BROADBAND, have we got a body we can complain to?