Broadband users still suffering from Telecom Éireann fiasco - Crowe
Despite Ireland’s broadband take-up growing, the state is still recovering from the after-effects of the disastrous decision to privatise Telecom Éireann in 1999 according to Sinn Féin Communications spokesperson Seán Crowe TD. He went on to point out that Minister Dempsey’s acknowledgement that private companies would not supply broadband to commercially unviable areas vindicated Sinn Féin’s argument that the privatisation of the company crippled efforts to roll out a national broadband infrastructure.
The Dublin South-West TD said: “Despite the reported increase in broadband uptake, which is welcome, Ireland still performs poorly overall with its broadband roll-out. What is interesting in Minster Dempsey’s response to the report is his acknowledgement, seven years after the fact, that commercial companies are not going to extend broadband supply to rural areas where it is not going to generate enough profit for them.
“The legacy of the Eircom privatisation debacle is still rearing its ugly head and will do so in the future as Ireland plays catch-up in the telecommunications sector. While the few were enriched, there was no investment in our telecommunications infrastructure with the resulting effect of poor broadband roll-out in many areas. Privatisation has failed these communities, but Minister Dempsey continues to hide behind ComReg and his liberalisation agenda. This government abdicated its responsibility to provide quality telecommunications when it sold Telecom Éireann off seven years ago.
“Irish broadband subscribers deserve a first-class broadband service but are instead forking out some of the highest prices in Europe for the slowest broadband. Those areas without broadband are being deprived of investment while the state’s competitiveness at large is being undermined.
“The recent scenario in which over 40,000 Smart Telecom customers were left in a telecommunications limbo as their services were withdrawn by Eircom should never have been allowed to happen. The fact that people were left without a phone line and broadband for a couple of weeks is unacceptable. The more serious fact was that some of these customers could not even make emergency 999 calls.”