Fianna Fáil bye-election candidate for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward has criticized the Government for failing to deliver high quality broadband to homes and businesses across Carlow. Mr Aylward pointed out that the government has committed to delivering high speed fibre broadband to 90% of homes and businesses in the programme for government. However figures show that 40% of the population remains outside the reach of high speed broadband services, with the problem particular impacting on rural areas in Carlow.
Mr Aylward commented, “There are numerous blackspots across county Carlow where it is simply impossible to get a decent broadband connection. These blackspots are costing jobs and threatening rural sustainability. We have seen the emergence of a digital device under this Government where broadband providers are investing in upgrading their infrastructure in urban areas while rural Ireland is being neglected.
“In 2011 the government promised to roll out significant investments in next generation broadband within four years under the NewERA plan. A clear commitment was made by the government to provide fibre broadband services to over 90% of homes and business in the state. The government has clearly failed to deliver on this commitment.
“Ireland ranks 42 in the global rankings for the distribution of high speed broadband. 40% of the population, and 96% of the country geographically, still lack commercial or fibre broadband services. We have one of the most pronounced two-tier broadband coverage systems in Europe and Fine Gael and Labour are not taking the necessary steps to address the problem.
“Poor provision of broadband is one of the greatest limiting factors when it comes to drop creation in Carlow. Having a decent broadband connection is now a fundamental requirement for businesses. Without good broadband services we are closing off large parts of Carlow to potential investment.
“The internet is the fastest growing market for businesses with more and more people focusing on purchasing their goods and services online. Businesses will struggle to survive without having sufficient access to the online market.
“Fianna Fáil has been highlighting the growing broadband divide between rural and urban Ireland. However Fine Gael and Labour are yet to spell out exactly how they are going to address the problem in order to give Small and Medium size businesses the opportunity to expand. What is needed is a comprehensive and targeted investment package which expands broadband services across Carlow by strengthening the existing infrastructure and expanding its reach to new areas” said Mr Aylward.