Rural broadband now an 'emergency' issue, warn campaigners
Nationwide roll-out of high-speed network should be non-negotiable, says ICMSA
The government needs to hold an emergency Cabinet meeting to prove to the people of rural Ireland that it is serious about supplying broadband nationwide, Irish Rural Link CEO Seamus Boland has urged.
This comes following a report last week by the European Court of Auditors that predicted that it is "highly unlikely" that the €275m set aside by the Government to supply broadband to every home in Ireland will be enough.
At present, Enet is the only bidder left in the process that should result in 540,000 premises being connected to the National Broadband Plan, following Eir's withdrawal from the tender in January.
Mr Boland told the Farming Independent that an emergency Cabinet meeting should have been held when companies started dropping out of the tender process. He said it is now time for the Government to hold such a meeting and prove to the people of rural Ireland that they're not out of touch with the issue.
"Red lights should have been flashing for the Government when companies started pulling out of the tender process. An emergency Cabinet meeting now has to be held as there are too many negative implications on rural Ireland if the plan isn't rolled out.
"Until we get that sense of urgency from the Government, it just looks like they've lost touch with rural Ireland,"he added.
Mr Boland also called for the Government to examine the bidding system because he feels since there is only one bidder left, it is likely that the process will "be delayed for as long as possible until the company get a good deal."
Mr Boland also said that the gap between urban and rural areas will only widen if the broadband issue isn't resolved.