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275 million Government Broadband Plan will cost additional millions annually – Tóibín

30 September, 2016

Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín has said that it was “deeply worrying” that Minister Heather Humphries was not able to give a figure as to the annual subvention that the tax payer would have to pay to fund the roll out of the new national broadband initiative. The annual subvention would be in addition to the ¼ billion euro plus of state investment into the broadband infrastructure, whose ownership which would be ceded to private operators.

Teachta Tóibín put the question to Aire Humphries during the Joint Oireachtas Committee of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs of which he is chair.

Teachta Tóibín said:

“It’s deeply worrying that the Minister refused to put a figure on the amount. It’s feasible that after ten years the state may invest €500m of taxpayers’ money into an infrastructure that will remain totally and forever in the hands of private operators. 

“Equally shocking was the admission by the Minister on foot of my question that all the houses in the state may not have received broadband under this scheme by 2022, which was understood to be the end date. Give the unambitious timeline for delivery and the disastrous slippage of time already thanks to the government, this new admission is a serious cause of concern.  

“There will be, according to the Minister, a possibility that due to the two separate geographical locations for tender, a two tier broadband experience in the state may develop. It’s very possible that the winner of the contract in the southern half of the state will offer a different gigabyte speed that the northern half of the state. This could mean that villages and towns a couple of miles from each other will have different broadband speeds and capacities. This would be a ludicrous outcome to what has been a shockingly overdue government approach.”

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