Deputy Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has welcomed the bringing of the ESB (Electronic Communications Networks) Bill before the Dáil.
Speaking on the bill, Deputy Colreavy said:
“Broadband has become an almost essential utility for every household. There are many daily functions that are now almost impossible to carry out without a proper broadband connection. There are many areas in Ireland, most of them rural, which still do not receive an adequate broadband connection. The lack of broadband or poor service levels is becoming a constraint in accessing services.
“On the ground service delivery in many rural areas is contracting and many services are being further curtailed in the current economic environment, for example the closure of banks, post offices and rural Garda stations. There is now a near universal acceptance that online access is the norm for some services and quality broadband is an imperative.
“While Ireland has a relatively low population density (63 per km2), it is higher than a country such as Australia (3 per km2). In Australia 93% of Australian premises will have access to fibre to the building, capable of providing broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps.
“One of the primary reasons that Ireland has such a poor level of broadband penetration is due to the privatisation of Telecom Éireann. This move was utterly disastrous for Ireland’s telecommunications network, resulting in a severe lack of state investment in the area. We are now only playing catch up with other European countries and this piece of legislation should rightly have been brought forward in one guise or another many years ago.
“Government must take initiatives in aiding with the extension of the broadband network so that Ireland can truly have a world class access service. State telecommunications assets are important in helping to bridge the gap between market provision of services and the need for additional State investment. Government policy, in ensuring access to next generation broadband throughout the country should recognise the range of applications and industries which require next generation access, the ever increasing bandwidth requirements and the long term value of investment in network infrastructure. These returns will include the wider economic benefits of better positioning in the global knowledge economy, job creation and enterprise development all supported by quality, future proofed broadband.”