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We need to future-proof broadband infrastructure for rural Ireland - Senator Kathryn Reilly

20 February, 2016

Speaking this afternoon Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly has said that the National Broadband Plan many not be enough for rural Ireland and that in order to future-proof broadband infrastructure fibre power broadband needs to be brought into each home and business around the country.

Senator Reilly said:

"For many people in Cavan and Monaghan, including those trying to run or start new businesses the quality of broadband and mobile phone coverage are serious impediments. Access to high quality broad band should be opening up new and exciting opportunities for a region which, in the pre-digital era, suffered as a result of its location. 

"High speed broadband is an enabling technology - it allows firms to compete on new platforms, in a range of markets and territories. Similarly the new realities in the rising number of people working from home and the shift towards online learning mean that the demand for broadband is exploding- in both urban and rural areas. Investment which is designed to deliver next generation broadband should be based on technologies which are future-proofed over the longer term and not just aimed at meeting immediate targets for 2020.

"Indeed, the Government was warned that the National Broadband Plan will provide speeds too slow for business, is unlikely to be completed in time, and will be outdated within a few years. The Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation warned the speeds outlined in the plan are too low and that the technical specifications will have a life span of two and a half to three years after which they will begin to become outdated.

"The fact is that for Cavan and Monaghan by the time we see the current National Broadband Plan being rolled out, it may not be enough. Running fibre cable right into each home, business and organisation is not only the best, but also the only smart option if we want to future-proof our broadband network.

"Ireland already performs badly in regard to broadband connection when compared internationally. We currently have one of the lowest access levels in the European Union to broadband, which hardly makes us the best small country in which to do business. This needs to be tackled head on in a long-term strategy, aimed at addressing the regional imbalances in infrastructure, investment and job creation.

"Sinn Féin have committed to connectivity across the regions and have made this a key pillar in our manifesto. Our proposals include:


-         Ensuring all Irish householders and business have access to a minimum broadband speed of 100Mbp. 

-         The replacement of copper with fibre optic cable. 

-         The provision of industrial cable broadband to municipal towns in the West. 

-         Empowering Comreg to regulate and reduce the high cost of broadband for users. 

-         Examining the feasibility of creating of a national communications company to avoid 
a situation where the West and other peripheral and lower populations areas are 
always left behind. 

-         Enabling digital cottage industries to flourish and the development of a strategy, which would be supported by the IDA, to enable people to remain living in rural areas while working (telecommuting) elsewhere including overseas. 

-         Mobile phone companies licences to include conditions around the provision of coverage particularly in rural area and that future spectrum licences should be based on geographic coverage instead of percentage coverage. 

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