Broadband access in Laois set for expansion.
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Communications, Brian Stanley TD, expressed concern over the news this week that the National Broadband Plan would be further delayed by at least a year.
“Minister Naughten says there are 38,927 properties in Laois requiring high speed broadband with 21,000 of these covered by commercial operators. While I welcome the fact that the Plan will provide a further 5,000 with broadband over the next 18 months, this still leaves well over 12,000 properties still to be covered in the county, many in outlying areas," said Deputy Stanley.
"For example Emo, Vicarstown and Ballaghmore are not included in the areas that Eir will supply. Procurement was to be completed in 2016 and this was a commitment in the Programme for Government. The completion of the procurement process keeps getting pushed out and I have raised this continuously in the Dáil and with the Department" he added.
"We now have a situation where Eir has cherry-picked locations to deliver broadband only where it is commercially profitable. The remaining, harder to reach areas of the country will be left without broadband connection because, realistically, it will be commercially unappealing for any bidder to deliver high speed broadband to the more remote areas. These delays will affect rural businesses and householders along with farmers who are now doing more and more of their business and grant applications etc online," Deputy Stanley continued.
“The Minister, who stated in the Dáil that 542,000 rural customers would be connected only after Eir had completed its contract, must ensure that private commercial interests do not jeopardise the roll out of the National Broadband Plan. The public have lost all confidence in the Government’s ability to deliver broadband nationwide as previously promised,” he concluded.