Fianna Fáil Senator Jennifer Murnane O’Connor has criticised Minister for Communications Denis Naughten for his handling of the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan.

The Government has indicated that the National Broadband Plan is set to be extended to Carlow in the coming months, but the Fianna Fáil Senator pointed out that the roll-out of the plan is running far behind schedule.

Senator Murnane O’Connor said, “The reaffirmation that the National Broadband Plan is set to be extended to rural parts of Carlow is a positive development. However I am growing increasingly concerned by the delays in actually delivering high speed broadband to rural communities in Carlow. The Government committed to achieving the full roll-out of the plan by 2018 but this has now been pushed back to 2022. There are concerns that even this target could be missed.

“A total of 10,555 properties in Carlow have no access to broadband. The lack of availability of high quality broadband is seriously hampering development in rural Ireland. Many businesses can no longer survive without access to broadband and the lack of high quality broadband has resulted in job losses in rural Ireland. The Government urgently need to get to grips with this problem. How can we expect rural Ireland to develop without access to basic infrastructure such as broadband?

“Serious concerns have also been raised about the quality of broadband set to be delivered under the National Broadband Plan. The National Broadband Plan was first unveiled in 2012 but technology has developed significantly since then. The delays in delivering the plan mean that the service could in fact be obsolete by the time it is delivered.

“It’s positive to see the Government finally recognising the importance of broadband infrastructure in rural Ireland, but unfortunately this has come too late for far too many people. I will be keeping a close eye on this issue in the months ahead to ensure we don’t see any further delays with the delivery of the plan,” concluded Senator Murnane O’Connor.