An Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny, T.D., was in Belmullet, Co. Mayo today to launch Shell’s 2014 Erris Enterprise Week, which provides support and advice to local enterprises and new start-up businesses in Erris and the wider Mayo business community through a series of daily seminars and workshops.

At the launch, Shell also announced that the company will provide 132 kilometres of high capacity fibre broadband to the State in ducting put in place by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR). The ducting runs alongside the Corrib gas pipeline. Shell E&P Ireland Limited (SEPIL) and its partners Statoil and Vermilion Resources will invest €750,000 in the installation of the fibre optic cable, which will then be handed over to the State, specifically to the DCENR, to support regional development in the West.

In the coming weeks, SEPIL will invite bids from expert third party contractors to carry out the installation work. SEPIL expects the cable installation to commence early in 2015.  When completed, ownership of the fibre optic infrastructure will be passed to the DCENR. The Department will then invite tenders from commercial providers to energise the cable and bring broadband connectivity to customers along the route (see map). SEPIL and the DCENR expect the new broadband infrastructure will be available to telecoms operators in 2015, allowing them to connect customers. 

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Speaking at the launch of Erris Enterprise Week and the announcement of Shell’s €750,000 broadband investment for the West of Ireland, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D., said “I am delighted to launch Shell’s Enterprise Week, which is bringing local SMEs and start-ups together to debate and innovate. Shell’s announcement of a €750,000 investment in broadband will light up the North West coast and will transform the region’s access to the internet. High speed broadband connectivity is absolutely vital to business and modern life, and this investment will make a huge difference to the west of Ireland and the many thousands of people and businesses who will benefit from the new services.

The Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Alex White T.D. thanked Shell for their support, saying Delivering high quality broadband to all parts of Ireland is a key priority for Government and for my Department. The decision by my Department, to invest €5m in the provision of this ducting while the gas pipeline was being constructed will allow telecoms providers to deliver high quality services to businesses and householders along this extensive route.  Commissioning of these ducts is being advanced immediately by my Department. In parallel with this project, intensive design work is underway to deliver an ambitious State investment in broadband which will deliver quality broadband of at least 30mbps to every home and business in Ireland, regardless of where they are located.