Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy has said that the National Broadband Plan has descended into a state of farcical chaos as hundreds of thousands of rural dwellers are to be left in limbo following Minister Naughten’s latest move to remove communities from the plan.
Commenting on the issue Eugene Murphy said “Hundreds of thousands of rural dwellers are to be left in broadband limbo after the Government signed a contract with Eir to slash the number of homes included in the State-subsidised National Broadband Plan.
With the new contract handing over future broadband provision for 300,000 rural homes to Eir, the Government is now unable to say when roll out for the majority of the homes will begin.
It means that the project, which was due to begin this year, may not start with any building phase until late 2018. The whole commercial viability of the National Broadband Plan is now in question,” said Deputy Murphy.
“It simply beggars belief- we now have a situation with communities going in, only to be taken out less than a year later.
“Last July, the National Broadband Plan had its number of eligible households increased by 170,000. We now see the Minister removing 300,000 and adding a further 85,000 leaving a net reduction in 215,000.
“The story of the National Broadband Plan under Fine Gael and quasi Fine Gael Ministers has been announcement after announcement, with no clear visibility on when roll out will begin.
“Communities up and down the country simply don’t believe what the Government is saying about its broadband plans because every commitment to date has been broken.
“We also have appalling broadband connectivity in County Roscommon with the county being ranked as the lowest (36%) with the number of premises served by the commercial sector as over 60% fall within the national broadband plan intervention area. Accessing quality broadband is a core requirement for small and medium sized businesses across the country. The provision of quality broadband for rural Ireland is a matter of necessity for survival and it really is akin to the transformation which rural electrification caused- that’s how important it is – a recent Amarach survey showed that one in four rural dwellers said they would think about leaving their area to live in an area with adequate broadband.
“Communities and businesses are furious that they are still left waiting for high quality broadband six years after the NBP was first announced,” concluded Murphy.