Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science, Technology, Research and Development, James Lawless TD has said that the Government should use a bill he has published, instead of drafting new legislation, to cut the cost of delivering the National Broadband Plan.
The Planning and Development (Rapid Broadband) Bill, published in July 2017, would ultimately make it quicker and easier for providers to roll out broadband services across the country.
“A key component of my bill is the requirement for infrastructure to be re-used, where it is already in place, by mandating the sharing of kit including masts, between providers rather than two or more identical installations in one area.
“This, I believe, negates the need for a new bill from the Government. I feel that Minister Naughten should accept that we are in a new form of politics where both opposition and government TDs members can put forward legislation. Ministers should make best use of the bills available to speed up the delivery of projects.
“There is, of course, a major concern among potential broadband providers that with Eir owning nearly the entire relevant infrastructure in the country, they will face difficulties accessing it to deliver competitive broadband services.
“This cannot be allowed to happen, and there is a need for legislation to ensure a level playing field.
“However, starting from scratch isn’t a good use of resources, and is in fact a waste of time. Good legislation is already on the books.
“The cumbersome Dáil legislative system can sometimes result in multiple bills being on the floor. I’m willing to work with the Minister to use my bill in whatever space and time is available on the floor of the Dáil to get a new law on the statute book. The ultimate objective must be to make it easier and cheaper to deliver rural broadband.
“Changes will, of course, be needed to make the bill the best bill possible. There have already been numerous delays on this roll-ou of the NBP and there is simply no justification for the Minister to start the clock again when I have an almost identical bill already in the Dail system and ready to go for the past year,” concluded Lawless.