Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West, Aindrias Moynihan has said that the apparent acceptance by the Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten that the state-sponsored element of the National Broadband Plan will not begin for at least 18 months will have major implications for homeowners and businesses in rural Cork.
“Last week in the Dáil, the Minister acknowledged that he did not expect any progress to be made on connecting the 542,000 households in isolated, rural communities to a quality broadband service over the next 18 months at least.
“Many of these 542,000 households are in rural rural Cork, and this acknowledgement is now putting a lot of doubt in people’s minds about the future of the plan itself.
“The problem lies in the fact that the Minister seems to be prioritising Eir’s work to connect 300,000 other homes which is being done on a commercial basis rather than the 542,000 homes that will never be able to access a commercial connection.
“The work being undertaken by Eir has nothing to do with the NBP, and any attempt by the Minister or the Government to claim credit for their work is a lie.
“A tender for the 542,000 homes remaining in the NBP has yet to be finalised, and no contract has yet been signed.
“I am very sceptical that the Minister’s claim of the rollout starting in 77 weeks will be met.
“A plan that was supposed to be completed by 2016 at the earliest now looks like it won’t be started until 2019 and not finished until 2024 is an embarrassment for the Government and a liability for rural communities.
“Rural Ireland is suffering, and is unable to compete with the major cities and large towns. Broadband can be a lifeline for these communities, but Minister Naughten just doesn’t get it.
“Businesses are losing customers, farmers cannot access services that they can only available online, and young people cannot access supports that will help their education, and all Minister Naughten can do is pass the buck and jump on the coat-tails of private commercial operation such as Eir,” concluded Moynihan.