Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Regional, Rural, Gaeltacht & Island Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív has described as “appalling” the fact that it will be 2023 before the Government manages to connect 537,587 rural homes and businesses to broadband under the National Broadband Plan.
In response to a Parliamentary Question from Deputy Ó Cuív, the Communications Minister Denis Naughten confirms that “network rollout will take 3-5 years following contract award” under the NBP. The contract is expected to be awarded in 2018, meaning it will take up until 2023 to connect over half a million homes and businesses covered by State intervention.
“It’s almost impossible to believe that more than a decade after the National Broadband Plan was first launched, thousands of premises in rural Ireland will still not have a high speed broadband connection”, said Deputy Ó Cuív.
“According to the information from Minister Naughten, almost one third of all homes and businesses across 12 counties will have to wait up until 2023 to be connected.
“The roll out of the NBP by successive Fine Gael-led Governments has been a disaster. They have repeatedly missed their own deadlines for delivery and kicked the can down the road in the run up to elections.
“Successive Ministers have failed to address broadband wastelands and continued to shift the goalposts on delivery. These blackspots are costing jobs, threatening rural sustainability and creating a digital divide between urban and rural Ireland. This Government’s neglect of rural Ireland cannot be allowed to continue and commitments must be made to ensure that all premises in rural areas are connected to essential broadband services as a matter of priority”.