Friday 14 December 2018

Just one tender now on the table for broadband rollout

Maria Herlihy

Following Eir's dramatic exit from the tendering process for the National Broadband plan, Cork Senator Tim Lombard has said that Fine Gael remains committed to broadband roll-out.

It's a view that isn't shared by his Cork colleague Deputy Aindrias Moynihan who described the government's handling of the broadband plan as an unmitigated disaster.

Senator Lombard said the Government is "absolutely committed" to ensuring the roll-out of high speed broadband to the 500,000 plus rural Irish homes that are currently without it. 

He said it was "unfortunate" that Eir has pulled out of the process, but Minister Naughten has assured his colleagues that it won't impact the roll-out time-frame. 

He said that Eir is currently rolling out high-speed broadband, predominately fibre, to the homes of over 300,000 premises in rural Ireland. 

Senator Lombard said "when this Government took office, about 50% of premises had high speed broadband. That figure is now 71% and by the end of this year 77% of premises will have high speed access.  "We are delivering high speed access to 300 farms every week." 

However, Deputy Aindrias Moynihan (FF) had a far different view.  He said the decision by Eir to withdraw from the tending process for the National Broadband Plan "speaks volumes" about the Government's handling of the situation. He said it now means that eNet is the sole bidder. 

"To say that the National Broadband Plan has been, from start to finish, an unmitigated disaster would be an understatement," said Deputy Moynihan.

"This Government has allowed the National Broadband Plan to flounder for the last number of years, shifting targets and deadlines at every juncture. 

From answers to Parliamentary Questions I have received, I know it will be several years before all homes and businesses in County Cork will be connected as it stands," he said.  

Deputy Moynihan said he is not "at all confident" that it can proceed with just one bidder.

"Broadband has the potential to be game-changer for rural Ireland, but it needs the Government to stop talking about it and start delivering a realistic, high quality and affordable service for rural communities," said Deputy  Moynihan.