Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth has expressed serious concern about the viability of the National Broadband Plan following the announcement by SSE that it has withdrawn from the E-Net bid – the only one left in the tender process.
Deputy Smyth is laying the blame for the ongoing NBP saga firmly at the door of the government.
“The National Broadband Plan was first announced in 2012 but has been plagued by a litany of problems ever since. It promised to bring high speed broadband rural Ireland, but more than 6 years later there are well over 500,000 homes, businesses and farms without a connection, including many areas across Cavan and Monaghan”, said Deputy Smyth.
“The SSE announcement is a significant blow to the plan and poses a serious threat to its future. This is particularly worrying for people living in rural areas, who have already been waiting years for access to a high speed line.
“This latest move exposes the fact that none of the companies, which could deliver the service, can see a way of making a decent financial return on it. What’s needed now is a commitment from the government to rural Ireland to financially back the NBP so that it can actually be rolled out.
“There are five questions that Minister Naughten and his Fine Gael colleagues must answer:
1. Why have e-Net not been designated as the Preferred Bidder?
2. When were you made aware of SSE’s decision to withdraw from the e-Net consortium?
3. When will the contract be signed?
4. When will the first homes be connected?
5. Over how many years will it take to connect the 540,000 households and businesses?
“Minister Naughten has remained off the grid since this announcement is made. This is unacceptable – we need to hear from the government as to what the plan is to ensure that the half a million homes, businesses and farms which are still waiting for high speed broadband, get connected.”