Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Communications Minister to explain what the next steps are for the rollout of high speed broadband to rural areas, after the National Broadband Plan hit another stumbling block.
Last weekend, SSE announced that it was withdrawing from the E-net consortium, which is the sole bidder left in the tendering process.
Deputy Smith commented, “This latest development is very worrying and casts doubt over the delivery of the National Broadband Plan, particularly in rural parts of Cavan and Monaghan. The latest figures released to me in a Parliamentary Reply reveal that 40% of homes, businesses and farms in Cavan and a huge 48% of premises in Monaghan are dependent on the NBP. Tens of thousands of people could now be waiting years for this service to be provided to them.
“The rollout of high speed broadband was first announced back in 2012, but it now looks unlikely that this Fine Gael government will be able to deliver on its promise that every home and business would be connected by 2020. Fine Gael has been unable to keep the plan on track – losing two out of the three bidders for the tender along the way. The fact that SSE has pulled from the Enet consortium is another indication that commercial companies simply do not see a financial return from this project.
“The government is not providing the money required to fully roll out the project. This must change. There are 17,000 premises in Cavan and a further 15,500 homes, businesses and farms in Monaghan that are waiting on the government to connect them to high speed broadband. This is not a luxury product; it is an essential service that is needed to go about everyday tasks.
“Minister Naughten needs to clearly outline the next steps to secure the rollout of high speed broadband throughout rural Ireland. The process has been extremely drawn out and measures must be taken to draw up a contract and provide the service on the ground.”