After Eir announced that it will no longer be competing in the Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP ) tender process, local TDs have blasted the Government’s handling of the rollout.
With the NBP delayed for an additional five years in certain areas, and with only one bidder - Enet - left competing, Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon-Galway, Eugene Murphy has spoken out.
“The roll out of the National Broadband Plan has been beset with one delay after another,” he said. “It was promised in 2011 for delivery in 2016, delayed until 2023, and now with Enet as the only remaining bidder it has descended into a chaotic mess. How can we be sure we are getting value for money with one sole bidder left in the race?”
Deputy Murphy, whose Roscommon constituency has the lowest percentage of premises in Ireland connected to high-speed broadband, added that communities and businesses are furious that they are still left waiting for high quality broadband six years after the NBP was first announced.
“The provision of quality broadband for rural Ireland is a matter of necessity for survival and it really is akin to the transformation which rural electrification caused. Minister Naughten needs to step up to the mark on this issue,” he said.
Longford-Westmeath TD, Robert Troy (FF ), was also harsh in his criticism.
“This Government has allowed the National Broadband Plan to flounder for the last number of years, shifting targets and deadlines at every juncture,” he said. “Only last month it was confirmed that it could be another five years before all homes and businesses in rural areas in Westmeath and Longford would be connected. The latest news could further jeopardise that.
“Minister Naughten has serious questions to answer. He has failed to prioritise the roll out of high speed broadband to rural areas and now it appears as if the NBP is hanging by a thread. I am not at all confident that it can proceed with just one bidder.”
With just one bidder remaining, the cost to consumers is now a major concern, especially as Enet will have to pay to use Eir’s infrastructure.