Eighty-four locations across east Galway and Connemara will remain without high speed fibre optic broadband, with no guarantee that services will improve in the sort to medium term.
The situation has led to Independent county councillor James Charity accusing the Fine Gael/Labour Government of “abandoning rural Ireland”. He also said, that after meeting with the Department of Communications this week, he was now convinced that the upgrade of broadband services “will not come to fruition within the lifetime of the present Government.”
The 2012 National Broadband Plan declared that every premises in Ireland, no matter how remote, would have minimum broadband speed of 30mbps by the end of 2015. However, the department confirmed to Cllr Charity that this has not been “realised in the interim”.
The department did say though, that a public consultation process is now necessary, following which an implementation strategy will have to be prepared, as well as an application for EU State Aid clearance.
Any such roll-out will be subject to a cost-benefit analysis. However Cllr Charity is concerned that this could actually halt the implementation of minimum broadband speed of 30mbps as there is “no guarantee the project would meet the criteria” of the cost-benefit analysis. Neither is there any guarantee of EU aid.
He is also concerned that no preferred contractor appointed to carry out any of the works; that there is no public consultation process completed; and no timeline has ever been outlined for completion of the works.
The Corrandulla based councillor added that the absence of critical broadband infrastructure “will impede business start-ups and expansion in rural towns and villages and cause employment to be centralised to larger urban centres”.