Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Communications Michael Moynihan is accusing Minister Pat Rabbitte of breaking another promise by watering down plans to roll out a high speed broadband service to every household in Ireland.
Minister Rabbitte announced in August 2012 that he intended to provide a broadband service with a minimum speed of 30Mb/s to every citizen in the country by 2015. However, in a revised plan launched last week, the Minister has rowed back on the plan and admitted this latest investment would still leave some pockets without access to a fibre network.
“While I welcome the €500 million investment in the Government’s broadband programme, as a country we should be moving towards ever more ambitious targets in the quality of our IT infrastructure, not rolling these targets back. The performance of the Minister to date has not been encouraging, with only 25% of homes earmarked in the Government’s rural broadband scheme connected to a service almost three years later.
“There are huge gaps in broadband availability across the country, creating a digital divide between rural and urban areas and adding to the growing isolation of many communities. Despite the extension of the programme, I’m concerned about the speeds that households in rural areas will receive. The core network may be fibre, but connectivity quality degrades quickly when it moves to simple telephone lines, which will significantly slow down speeds. As a country we should be striving to ensure that rural communities are afforded the same high speed service available in towns and cities, and not a sub-standard package that leaves them at a disadvantage.
“These latest, more modest proposals need to be implemented in full and on time. The Government’s policy on broadband provision appears to have stalled, to the detriment of rural communities across the country. I’m calling on the Minister to ensure that this latest programme, despite being a scaled back version of previous announcements, is implemented without delay”.