'Nobody will be left behind.' That was the message from Geoff Shakespeare, Chief Operations Officer at National Broadband Ireland (NBI) as he arrived before the March meeting of Wexford County Council to give an overview of the National Broadband Plan.
Communications Officer at Wexford County Council David Minogue described the project as being similar in scale and complexity to the rural electrification scheme of the 1950s.
'This project is about providing universal access to high speed broadband, particularly targeting rural areas not serviced by commercial companies,' Mr Shakespeare explained, before adding that the scale of the project involved cables that were three and a half times the circumference of the planet.
He added that currently 22,175 homes in Wexford were without quality broadband, or 27%. In terms of the plan, he said that townlands around Wexford town were being surveyed later this year and the hope was to have complete connection in these areas by 2021.
Cllr George Lawlor raised an issue regarding the Farnogue Park estate in Wexford town.
'We've had Virgin Media and Siro etc in town in recent years,' he said. 'But still there is no broadband in the likes of Farnogue Park, right in the heart of town. While I welcome the roll-out to rural areas, will places in towns that are not currently covered be included in these plans?'
Mr Shakespeare reiterated that 'nobody will be left behind' and pointed out that NBI were mandated to connect any areas where there was no commercial commitment to connect.
'I can tell you the good will on this subject is extremely stretched rurally,' said Cllr Michael Whelan. 'Maybe if the offices of NBI were moved from Citywest to Hook Head things would be moving a little faster.'
Cllrs Barbara Anne Murphy and Cathal Byrne pointed out that in the Enniscorthy district, there are areas where commercial companies will not run cables down a lane to houses or where one side of the road has access to broadband, while the other doesn't.
Mr Shakespeare said that he was confident of making significant progress in Wexford in the coming years and asked the elected reps for their support going forward.