Responsibility for the State-backed roll-out of high speed broadband to 757,000 premises around the country is to fall to two departments under the new Government.

The Department of Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources will be responsible for the public procurement of the high-speed telecoms network, and will develop proposals for an entity to manage all of the State's broadband contracts.

However, the Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht, led by Heather Humphreys, will be responsible for ensuring that rollout can be delivered quickly once a contract or contracts are in place.

The new arrangements were announced by Minister for Communications Denis Naughten at the installation of a new broadband service in a national school in Co Roscommon today.

The minister also revealed that Ms Humphreys will set up county or regional broadband taskforces and work with local authorities, Local Enterprise Offices, LEADER Groups and other agencies to help accelerate the broadband network build in rural Ireland. 

The taskforces will develop rural digital strategies, he said, to ensure that planning permissions and road openings can be processed quickly, identify priority areas for the rollout of infrastructure and to develop regional digital hubs.

Separately, a national mobile phone and broadband taskforce will be established, the minister said, which will consider immediate measures to alleviate broadband and mobile phone service deficits across rural Ireland.

Last month it emerged that the Government's plan to roll out high-speed broadband connectivity to every premises in the country had been delayed.

The original plan foresaw the completion of the network by the end of 2020 at the latest, but a delay in the procurement phase means contracts will not be signed until the middle of next year - at least six months later than planned.

Further doubt was cast on the timeline for completion of the plan with the announcement of the formation of the new Government when the Taoiseach said responsibility for delivery of the pledge would be transferred from the Department of Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources to the Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht.

But speaking today, Mr Naughten emphasised the Government's strong commitment to revitalising rural Ireland through the implementation of the plan and other measures, and said the initiative was a top priority.

He described the The National Broadband Plan as a defining plan for Ireland, adding that it will be the most significant investment in rural Ireland since rural electrification.

He also gave an update on the progress of the delivery of the interventions, saying the procurement process is well under way.

The expectation is that interested companies will be shortlisted as bidders in the next month, with a contract or contracts signed by June 2017, Mr Naughten said.