Thursday 17 January 2019

Concerns for rural Fingal as Eir quits National Broadband Plan

Communities in rural Fingal are nervously watching developments as their long wait for high speed broadband hangs in the balance following the withdrawal from Eir from the National Broadband Plan, leaving only one bidder still in the race to implement the programme.

Fianna Fáil TD for Fingal, Darragh O'Brien says 'countless households across North County Dublin could be left without access to high speed broadband as a result of the Government's mismanagement of the National Broadband Plan'.

He made the comments following the news that Eir is the latest bidder to leave the tendering process.

Deputy O'Brien said, 'It is a widely held belief that a lack of efficient broadband connection is an issue that only affects rural. In reality, there are large swathes of broadband black spots in Fingal some areas of which are adjacent to Dublin Airport; a major transport hub that serves millions of passengers each year. It's quite shocking to consider that such a vast area which has a dynamic local economy from technology and finance to the agri-food sector, is left without a high speed broadband connection.'

Criticising the troubled roll-out of the plan, Deputy O'Brien said: 'This Government cannot claim to prioritise the growth of indigenous business and at the same time allow the National Broadband Plan to flounder for years by shifting targets and deadlines at every juncture. '

However, Fine Gael's Senator James Reilly said that his party and Government 'remain committed to broadband roll-out in Fingal and in particular, rural Fingal'.

Senator Reilly claimed the withdrawal of Eir from the process would not affect the roll-out of rural broadband in Fingal.

He said: 'While it is unfortunate that Eir has pulled out of the process, our Government colleague Denis Naughten has assured us that it will not impact the roll-out time-frame for Fingal. Minister Naughton has given a guarantee to homes and businesses that are frustrated with waiting for broadband, saying we will now probably get shovels on the ground quicker because there is only one consortium left in the process.'

Defending the Government's record on the issue, he 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.'

Fingal Independent