Rural areas face long wait for high speed broadband, warns Ó Cuív

Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West Éamon Ó Cuív says the Government’s National Broadband Scheme doesn’t provide fast enough connections and will be redundant before its roll-out is completed.

The current plan only provides speeds of 30 Mbps, when high speed broadband is normally in the region of 100 Mbps to 1Gbps. Deputy Ó Cuív explained that the National Broadband Scheme is taking too long to roll out and will not provide a high speed service for users in rural areas.

“Despite a rapidly changing broadband scene where fibre is fast becoming the norm, Minister Alex White is only proposing speeds of 30 Mbps in some areas. Why is this Government failing to prioritise fibre optic broadband in lieu of inferior speed and capacity? Five years after taking office, Fine Gael and Labour have still not addressed broadband wastelands.

“These blackspots are costing jobs, threatening rural sustainability and creating a digital divide between urban and rural Ireland. “When questioned about the National Broadband Scheme in the Dáil last week, Minister White was particularly evasive about the timeframe for completion of the roll out.

“When pressed on the issue, he conceded that there will be “delivery of product in 2018 because I have given figures in respect of that. The last house will be covered sometime before 2020.” Essentially, he is admitting that it will be at least another three years before rural parts of Ireland see any improvement in their broadband service. This is simply not good enough, says Dep O Cuiv.

“Over the past five years, we have seen major technological advances and people are more dependent on broadband and internet connections. More and more people are dependent on quality broadband for services like Netflix and Apple TV and other online services. The advantage of high speed broadband is that it can cope with large volumes of traffic without slowing down; however the Minister’s admission that it could be 2018 before some parts of the country would see any improvement in their broadband service is completely unacceptable.

“The Minister must commit to the immediate roll-out of fibre to the premises across every county in Ireland, either by commercial companies or by direct state intervention. Anything less than fibre would be totally unsatisfactory. It is time for the Government to stop dragging its heels on this issue and to ensure that rural and urban communities have access to proper high speed broadband. This once-off investment would reap massive dividends for Ireland, both now and into the future,” he concluded.

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