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Rural Ireland has lost confidence in Government’s Broadband Plan – Tóibín

4 July, 2017

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Regional Development and Rural Affairs Peadar Tóibín TD has criticised the ‘shockingly overdue’ government approach to the rollout of rural broadband, which will now not be realised until at least 2024.  

An Teachta Tóibín said:

“Fianna Fáil’s Dermot Ahern first promised broadband throughout the whole state in 2004. Fianna Fáil’s Noel Dempsey promised that every house in the state would have broadband by 2010.  Eamon Ryan of the Green Party promised broadband for all by 2012. In 2014, the Fine Gael government stated that the entire country will have high-speed broadband by 2020. In 2016, the date was rolled out to 2022. Now, we hear that the date for full rural broadband may be 2024. Even today, Minister Denis Naughton has admitted that his plan’s roll out would not happen until after Eir’s project had completed and, therefore, even the 2024 date is in question.

“So, the proposed government time line for the roll out of broadband to every home in the state will still up in the air at least 20 years after the project was first mooted by the then Fianna Fáil government. This is outrageous, as large swathes of our country are without broadband. Even areas just outside our major towns are currently without broadband. This means that students, workers, and businesses are materially disadvantaged with regards study, distance learning, working from home and growing businesses.

“Despite investing over a quarter of a billion euro worth of state investment into the new national broadband infrastructure, the ownership of the infrastructure will be ceded to the private operators. We have also learned that that the tax payer will also have to foot an annual subvention to these same operators.

“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.

“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 a 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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