Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Lisa Chambers has expressed serious concerns that the rollout of broadband to certain parts of the county will be delayed again, and she has criticised the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten for failing to future-proof the service. There are now fears that the rollout of the service could be delayed again as a result of a lengthy procurement process.
Following questions from Fianna Fáil, Minister Naughten said: "The timeframe for the procurement continues to be dependent on a range of factors, including the complexities that may be encountered by the procurement team and bidders during the procurement process.”
Deputy Chambers said: “Rural communities right across Mayo have been ignored by the Government since it took office in 2011, with a major digital divide between the county's larger towns and smaller rural areas having emerged. How can we expect businesses to grow and prosper in rural communities when they cannot be confident of access to high quality broadband?
“The National Broadband Plan has been delayed, completion dates have been pushed out, and communities have been left without an adequate service. This is a completely unacceptable situation for the thousands of residential and business customers across the country, and now it appears as if the latest delivery target will be missed again.
“There are also serious issues with the speeds on offer," she added. "The current NBP stipulates a 30Mb broadband speed, but this figure is already out of date. In the US, anything less than 50Mbps is not even classed as broadband. It’s clear to me now that the speeds need to be revised upwards in order to future proof the service. Fibre broadband is the only real option if rural parts of Mayo are to be brought into line with urban areas.
“Broadband is the single biggest issue in rural Ireland but the urgency of the situation appears to be lost on the Minister. If he wants to get serious about broadband delivery, he needs to ensure that fibre rollout is prioritised, particularly in rural areas.”