Commitments made under the National Broadband Plan to provide rural Ireland with basic fibre speed broadband must be upheld, according to Dep Paul Connaughton.
The Fine Gael Galway East TD has raised the issue with the Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte, saying “broadband in rural areas is not a luxury, it is a necessity”.
“If we are to avoid a digital divide, every effort must be made to ensure that broadband provision is provided across the country,” he said. “Special efforts must be made to accommodate prospective employers in terms of ensuring broadband availability where jobs are proposed.”
Dep Connaughton said he was contacted recently by a businessman in County Galway seeking to set up a business in a rural part of east Galway. The venture will create three or four high-quality jobs.
“Broadband is the stumbling block and the advice he received from his broadband provider was to set up business in the city,” said Dep Connaughton. “This is a ludicrous situation. Without high-speed broadband, we are leaving rural communities without the wherewithal to provide a base for small or medium enterprises.”
The TD also quoted IDA chief executive Barry O’Leary, who stated that the key growth areas in terms of foreign direct investment in Ireland are “technology, life sciences and international financial services”.
“While most foreign direct investment jobs are located in cities,” said Dep Connaughton, “smaller companies in these sectors can set up outside of cities and the larger towns, but without high speed broadband this is simply not possible.”