Today's signing of the contract to proceed with the national broadband plan is "one of the defining days in the history of our country and will be the turning point for the revitalisation of rural Ireland" - that's according to former Communications Minister, Roscommon TD Denis Naughten.

The awarding of the contract to National Broadband Ireland was confirmed at an early-morning Cabinet meeting, and will include an investment of €145 million in Mayo, bringing high-speed broadband to 36, 390 homes and businesses across the county.

Nationally, the plan includes the rollout of high-speed broadband to over half a million premises - many in isolated areas that are not covered by commercial broadband operators.

Initially, some 300 broadband connections points will be available in community settings, such as GAA clubs, libraries and community centres - including 12 such hubs in Co Mayo - and these shared hubs will provide a free high-speed broadband services to people living in rural areas while they await the arrival of a high-speed connection to their own premises.

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