Fianna Fáil Deputy for Roscommon-Galway, Eugene Murphy, says Minister Denis Naughten’s refusal to provide a time line for the National Broadband Plan leaves rural Ireland “to wilt away in limbo”.
Deputy Murphy is highly critical of Minister Naughten’s refusal to commit to a time line to roll out broadband to more than 542,000 households that are currently without access.
Last week, Minister Naughten said that the procurement process is continuing in parallel with the roll-out of infrastructure by commercial operators.
“It seems that nothing will happen for at least 18 months, but more likely two years, as the negotiations with potential bidders will take a considerable amount of time to conclude,” Deputy Murphy said. “Is it the case that the Minister and his officials have been too slow at drawing up the necessary tender documents, or worse, the Minister isn’t confident that he has the funding required to deliver the National Broadband Plan?
“Either way, it leaves homeowners and business people anxiously waiting for the delivery of high speed broadband. The ability of the State to meet its original pledge to deliver broadband to over half a million household and businesses is now shrouded in doubt.”
Deputy Murphy said people and businesses located in rural Ireland are suffering as they cannot compete with those in major towns and cities.
“Broadband can be a lifeline for these communities,” he said. “A number of my constituents who run their own businesses actually find it quicker to sit in their car outside their premises on their mobile phone to send emails or conduct business because it’s quicker than sitting waiting on their computer in the office. That’s how bad the broadband speeds are in some parts of Counties Roscommon and Galway, and that unfortunately is the reality of trying to do business in rural Ireland.”