Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Regional, Rural, Gaeltacht & Island Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív says the Government’s handling of the National Broadband Plan has been completely shambolic. The roll-out is well behind schedule, the speeds being offered are already out of date and the areas to be covered by commercial operators have still not been finalised.
Deputy Ó Cuív explained, “The roll out of the National Broadband Scheme has been slow and disorganised, almost bordering on chaotic. It seems that every time that some progress is made another issue arises and we find ourselves having to back-track. Maps have had to be re-drawn, some areas due to be covered by the State are now falling under the remit of commercial operators, and other parts of the country due to be served by these companies are now left in limbo.
“The lack of information in relation to the process, as well as the uncertainty over the timeframe is very concerning. I am very worried that the rollout will be further delayed following the latest reply from Minister Naughten. In it he says “the timeframe for the procurement continues to be dependent on a range of factors including the complexities that may be encountered by the procurement team and bidders, during the procurement process”. This could see the delivery of high speed broadband to homes and businesses pushed out later than the current 2018 target.
“After waiting for more than 6 years for the roll-out of fibre across the country, but it seems that we are as far away from achieving this as ever. It is a ridiculous situation that over 900,000 premises will have to wait up until 2022 for the NBP to be fully rolled out. It should be a very simple process to ensure a basic piece of infrastructure is made available to every home and business – broadband today is the equivalent of electricity 60 years ago, but the Government does not seem to understand the urgency of its delivery.
“If there is one issue that is holding rural Ireland back, it’s the lack of fibre broadband. I will be continuing to press Minister Naughten on this matter to ensure that progress is made and that high quality broadband is delivered throughout the State”.