Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications Michael Moynihan TD says he is appalled following the revelation that some 750,000 homes and businesses will have to wait until 2022 before they get access to high speed broadband under the Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP).

Deputy Moynihan made the comments after the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources confirmed that the procurement contract for the plan will not be awarded until 2017.

Deputy Moynihan, “This is an enormous hammer blow for rural communities considering the network build will take 3-5 years to complete once a contract has been awarded. For all their promises and policy pledges, the digital divide has grown under the outgoing Government. Ireland has one of the most pronounced two-tier coverage systems in Europe. High speed broadband is readily available in urban areas, however this is in stark contrast to rural areas which only have access to basic broadband packages.

“The goalposts for broadband delivery continues to be shifted. The 2011 programme for Government promised to deliver fibre to 90% of homes and businesses by 2015. The Government subsequently committed to providing 100% delivery of high speed broadband by 2020 through the NBP.

“Figures recently supplied to Fianna Fáil in a parliamentary reply show that close to half of all premises in 15 counties may have to wait until 2022 to receive high-speed broadband under the Government’s NBP.

“The delay in rolling out high speed broadband to rural communities will continue to hurt investment and job creation opportunities. The National Competitiveness Council has pointed out that the creation of jobs outside of Dublin remains sluggish due to the slow roll out of broadband. This is something that the next Government will have to tackle. Fianna Fáil remains committed to the roll out of high speed fibre broadband to every home and business in Ireland.”