RTE is reporting that there has been a surge in demand for broadband service from rural areas.
The report from the telecoms regulator also reveals that over the past 12 months, the number of people who received free internet in the first half of this year has more than doubled from 8.4 million to 25.3 million.
While the number was slightly down from the same period in 2017, the rise in demand from rural residents is in line with a trend that began in 2018.
According to the report, the average cost of an internet connection in rural areas has gone up by around 7 per cent per annum.
The average price of a basic internet connection is now about $30 a month, while the average price for a high speed connection is around $200 a month.
The average cost for a gigabit broadband connection is $90.RTE reports that over 1.5 million rural homes in the country are now connected to fibre optic broadband services, a figure which is more than three times the number in 2018 and has increased over 50 per cent in the past year.
The rural broadband sector is growing at an incredible pace, with the number growing at more than eight per cent a year.
However, the report suggests that the sector is facing “significant challenges” due to the lack of availability of broadband services and the cost of maintaining the infrastructure.
Rural residents are also increasingly using alternative ways to access the internet, such as wireless, satellite, or hotspots.
Reno-based Internet providers are not exempt from the cost that their customers pay.
RTE reports the average monthly cost for an ISP is around €5,400 and that they charge up to 15 per cent on their first line of service.
While there are no figures for the total number of customers who are subscribed to the NBN, it is thought that the number has grown from around 10 million in the 2016-17 financial year to nearly 17 million in 2018-19.
In October 2017, NBN Co announced a new policy that would allow people to sign up to NBN services for a fee, which would then allow them to access services for the first time if they paid for them upfront.
However, RTE has not yet been able to obtain a copy of the policy, which was announced by the Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, in July 2018.