Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Michael Moynihan TD, has reacted angrily to the Government’s withdrawal of funding for the National Broadband Scheme which could lead to a 75% price hike for rural broadband users.
The National Broadband Scheme was set-up under the previous government to deliver basic affordable broadband to rural areas where the service was poor. The scheme will now expire on August 25th.
Deputy Moynihan commented: “I am shocked and angered at the announcement by the Government that it will withdraw funding for the National Broadband Scheme, which provided basic broadband services to rural areas, through a subsidy for the company 3 Ireland. This move will now result in broadband customers being forced to pay an additional €176 per year to receive a basic broadband service.
“This represents another facet in the Government’s policy of dismantling rural Ireland; which will be left behind in any economic recovery. There is now a two-tier recovery and a two-tier broadband service, which the Government seems happy to stand over.
“Regional and rural Ireland has been abandoned and is losing out on investment and business because the broadband service is of poor quality. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in rural Ireland are now at a considerable disadvantage compared to businesses in urban areas.
“In April, just before the local elections, the Government announced the National Broadband Plan, which it said would “set out the strategy to deliver high speed broadband throughout Ireland”. It was a deeply cynical move to announce this plan and just a few short months later, withdraw funding for a scheme which guaranteed basic broadband services at a reasonable cost.
“I am now calling on the new Minister for Communications, Alex White TD, to stand up for rural Ireland and reinstate funding for the scheme which is due to expire on August 25th. There is still time to salvage some of the Government’s battered reputation in its commitment to rural Ireland.”