Offaly Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen has called for clarity from the Government on the issue of access to broadband in rural areas in the county.
It follows the announcement of a new €450m investment programme by the ESB and Vodafone in fibre broadband for 50 towns around the country including Tullamore and Mullingar.
Deputy Cowen commented: “This announcement is very positive and will enable much higher internet speeds for businesses and homes. This is an important factor in enabling new businesses to set-up in the Midlands and attract new companies into the area. However I do think we need clarity from the Government about broadband access in more rural areas.
“This is a very significant investment but at the end of the day it is being made by a semi-State company and a commercial operator. We need to ensure that while many towns will benefit under this plan that the Government has its own plan to deliver broadband to other villages and rural areas.
“The Government seems completely unwilling to ensure 100% cover across the country on all the main networks. Technology is moving at a rapid pace and in order to guarantee competitiveness in business Ireland needs to have a fast, working mobile and broadband service. Unfortunately this Government has been unable to keep up with these technological advances and the expansion of services has effectively stalled. 4G networks are only guaranteed in highly populated areas because the level of cover required to carry it is wholly inadequate outside of the main cities.
“The Government needs to move on this important issue, alongside the investment from ESB and Vodafone,” concluded Deputy Cowen.