Rural dwellers are being left behind their urban counterparts when it comes to broadband access, preliminary Census 2016 figures have confirmed.

Overall, 76.2% of Irish urban households had broadband, compared with 61.1% of households in rural areas.

A greater proportion of rural households (31.2%) had no internet connection when compared with urban households (22.8%), reflecting the move to mobile 3G type connections.

Overall, broadband use in private households increased from 63.8% in 2011 to 70.7% in 2016, resulting in 148,125 more households having a broadband connection.

The number of homes with slower types of internet connection fell slightly from 8.1% in 2011 to 7.8% (1,297 fewer dwellings) in 2016.

Dwellings with no internet connection at all fell by 113,114 to 312,982 and represented 18.4% dwellings. In 2011, this figure was more than one in four (25.8%) in 2011.

Reacting to the figures, Labour communications spokesperson Seán Sherlock said the census highlighted the gulf that exists between urban and rural broadband services.

We have a tale of two dial-ups with no end in sight

“While the Minister has hailed the National Broadband Plan as a victory for rural Ireland, the census has shown that rural areas continue to lag behind urban Ireland. We have a tale of two dial-ups with no end in sight,” he added.

“We also have no link as to where the new premises to receive broadband will be, with the terminology suggesting it won't reach areas outside of the metropolitan capitals. Those seeking to establish businesses and run them in rural Ireland will continue to be left behind.

“Overall, today’s census figures show an increase of just under 7% in broadband connectivity for rural Ireland, which is just not good enough."

Broadband by numbers:

  • 71% – the percentage of households with broadband internet access.
  • 86% – the percentage of households with broadband internet access in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown (highest in the country).
  • 58% – the percentage of households with broadband internet access in Leitrim (lowest in the country).
  • 18% – the percentage of homes with no internet connection.
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