The first NBP Broadband Officer Workshop took place on the 4th of April 2017 at the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe. Over 50 delegates registered on the day including Local Authority Broadband Officers together with Directors of Services and Chief Executive Officers from around the country. Also in attendance were staff from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
Local Authorities are key stakeholders in the roll out of the NBP. Broadband Officers have been charged with removing barriers faced by telecoms operators in their Local Authority Area.
The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD, addressed the delegates regarding the latest developments in the NBP, including the new High Speed Broadband Map which has been updated to reflect the Government Commitment with eir that 300,000 premises in rural areas will receive access to High Speed Broadband by 2018.
Minister Naughten emphasised the essential role played by the Broadband Officers in ensuring the success of the NBP. The Minister acknowledged the positive feedback he has received to date about the good work on a number of issues regarding the rollout of broadband infrastructure and mobile phone coverage.
Earlier in the day, delegates were addressed by the Department of Communication's Patrick Neary, Chief Technology Officer, Finola Rossi, Principal Officer, National Digital Strategy and Telecommunications Market Contracts and Event Chairperson and Guest Speaker, Deirdre Frost, Policy Analyst with the Western Development Commission.
Patrick Neary presented an update on the latest developments in the NBP including a demonstration of the new High Speed Broadband Map available at www.broadband.gov.ie.
Finola Rossi spoke about the Department's Digital Strategy Initiatives including the Trading Online Voucher scheme and illustrated how these schemes relate to the work of the Broadband Officers.
Deirdre Frost explained what she sees as the role of the Broadband Officers and gave an overview of the developments in the telecoms area over the years. Deirdre identified how the NBP infrastructure will be a huge opportunity for rural areas and has the potential to be transformative for work, business and entertainment.
This portion of the day concluded with a Q&A session where the delegates were given an opportunity to voice their queries with the speakers.
The event closed with a Q&A session where Minister Naughten took questions from the floor.
Some of the key outcomes of the day were:
- The opportunity for the Minister to address the Local Authority Broadband Officers together with Directors of Services and Chief Executive Officers and emphasise their importance in assisting in the success of the National Broadband Plan and thank them for their work to date.
- Broadband Officers met with the Department Staff working directly on the National Broadband Plan and were briefed on the latest updates in the procurement process and the publication of the new Map as well as wider issues including Digital Strategies.
- Delegates heard the views of Deirdre Frost, who represents other key stake holders and provided further insight into the significant opportunity provided to rural Ireland by the National Broadband Plan.
- The event also gave the opportunity for a group discussion and for the Broadband Officers to put questions directly to the Minister and Department Staff.
A big thank you to all who travelled from near and far to participate in the event.
A list of Broadband Officers in each local authority is available at the following link: http://www.ruralireland.ie/policies/national-broadband-plan/