New delay will leave a million without broadband until 2020
THE Government is preparing to announce a new delay to a broadband roll-out for a million people living outside our cities. This will push back new rural broadband connections until 2020 at the earliest.
The move is set to infuriate rural residents and campaigners, many of whom say they are being "abandoned again".
"Every year, we lose around 10,000 jobs that could have been gained with a proper broadband framework here," said Séamus Boland of Irish Rural Link.
While the Programme for Government specified a 2019 connection date for the National Broadband Plan (NBP), a spokesman for Communications Minister Richard Bruton indicated that this may not now be met.
However, telecoms industry executives believe there is a slowing of enthusiasm in Government circles for an expedited roll-out of the NBP.
"It's about politics now," one senior industry executive said, adding: "They want the heat out of it."
The Government is waiting on an audit report from consultant Peter Smyth on whether meetings between former communications minister Denis Naughten and Granahan McCourt boss David McCourt disrupted "the integrity of the procurement process".
Contacted on the issue, Mr McCourt declined to comment on a possible delay or on his meetings with Mr Naughten.