Government in 'dilemma' over National Broadband Plan says Laois tech CEO

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Communiciations CEO from Laois says governement in 'dilemma' over National Broadband Plan

Communiciations CEO from Laois says governement in 'dilemma' over National Broadband Plan

The government are shying away from the industry truth about rural broadband because of the National Broadband Plan, according to the CEO of a communications company.

Laois businessman and CEO of Cignal Colm Cunningham says the government is "afraid to explain" that broadband is being installed in rural Ireland without waiting for the plan.

The plan recently approved by government to be installed by the only bidder National Broadband Ireland, will take years to deliver and an estimated €3 billion.

"There is a dilemma with what's happened for the government. They are afraid to explain that broadband is being delivered. It annoys some of us in the industry. This has become politically charged," he said.

He was speaking at a meeting about a proposed digital and business hub in Rathdowney in Laois. Cignal has leased a space for a mast at the former outlet shopping centre where the hub is proposed. The company is installing about a dozen masts around Laois as part of a nationwide upgrade of broadband and mobile coverage. 

Mr Cunningham said the industry is not waiting for the government's plan to connect rural homes with fibre broadband.

"We have been following the National Broadband Plan saga. I can guarantee you that we are not waiting to deliver it. There is a company delivering broadband to Aran Mor, shown in an advertisement on the television. I have another guy on an island off Galway which will shortly be fully covered, guaranteed," he said.

"I'm not saying it shouldn't happen but we should make sure places like this are connected," the Cignal CEO said.

"Because I am living in Laois I have put a huge focus on it. Services are being rolled out. Laois will be the best county in Ireland served with mobile and fixed broadband. You don't need fibre broadband to homes, this is much quicker to deliver. there is an unnecessary illusion of what's required.  You only need 20 or 30 megabits to watch Netflix and play your XBox. People that want to live here will have broadband, you don't have to wait for it," he said.

Mr Cunningham agreed that digital hubs require higher speeds of broadband that need to be delivered by fibre.

"I'm fully behind this hub. Getting fibre in here is easy. if it means digging a duct for 50 metres, its a small cost," he said.