Broadband debacle must be brought to an end – Senator Conway-Walsh
Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has said that the National Broadband Plan (NBP) could be delivered to rural Ireland in a much more affordable way – not through Eir – but through the ESB.
Senator Conway-Walsh was speaking following the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications at which Eir declared that it could deliver the NBP at a fraction of the current cost the State.
The Mayo-based Senator said:
“The provision of high-speed broadband to rural Ireland is essential and must be delivered without further delay.
“We must, however, proceed in a way that is both credible and deliverable.
"There is no doubt that the National Broadband Plan (NBP) can be delivered to rural Ireland in a much more affordable way than is currently envisaged by Fine Gael.
"Eir stated at yesterday’s committee meeting that it could deliver the NBP at a fraction of the current €5b cost.
"We agree with Eir that the NBP can be delivered at a much lower cost, but it is our position that this can be best achieved through using the ESB network.
"The ESB brings with it a strong track record of delivering important infrastructural projects across the State, it has the existing infrastructure there and has a proven capacity to deliver.
"My constituents are all too familiar with poor customer services experiences with Eir, and if you travel through rural Ireland you can see quite clearly that Eir’s poles and ducts are actually in quite poor condition.
"The ESB, on the other hand, keeps its infrastructure in very good condition due to the fact that it is running high velocity electricity through its network.
"The ESB runs electricity to almost every single home in the State and we should be doing what other countries in Europe do which is to have double purpose networks which combine both electricity and broadband.
"The ESB was a frontrunner early on in the NBP procurement process and withdrew following the Government’s decision to allow Eir in 2017 to cherry-pick the 300k most easy-to-reach homes in rural Ireland.
"We need to reach out to the ESB again and direct them as a Semi-state body to deliver for the rest of rural Ireland."