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03 Jul 2022

No broadband connections in Laois and Offaly cause 'grave concerns' about rollout

Sinn Féin TD raises issue

Broadband

The contract for the National Broadband Plan

A Laois Offaly Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley says he is “gravely concerned" about the pace of progress with the National Broadband Plan (NBP).  

The TD made the comment in a statement following an update he received from the Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan TD that there has been no connections to date in Laois or Offaly in the so called “intervention area’’ under the Government's National Broadband Plan.

He said intervention areas are those parts of the country that are not serviced already by another broadband provider.

"The most recent update I have received from the Minister shows only 3,900 homes or premises have been connected in first 22 months of the NBP rollout. These are in another 11 counties.

“Under this plan, which was to be completed in 2026, 115,000 homes and businesses were to be passed (broadband fibre cable passing the premises) by the end of this year. This plan is way behind schedule and the current situation is that there is only 27,000 passed.

"With the project way behind schedule, earlier in the year the Government agreed a remedial plan with NBP for to reduce the number of houses and businesses passed by year end to 60,000. However, less than half of that has now been achieved. The explanation that has been given for this is the Covid restrictions at the start of the year, however telecommunication works were exempt from these restrictions and were allowed to continue," he said.

Deputy Stanley flagged the situation in his own constituency.

“According to the NBP website, parts of Laois and Offaly will not even be surveyed for connection until the end of 2026. This includes an area around Mountrath and parts of south Offaly near Birr. 12,562 homes and businesses are in the intervention area in Laois with 12,216 in Offaly.

"I am gravely concerned with the pace of progress of this plan. I am also concerned about the financing of the plan which will have a total cost of between €2.7 billion and €2.8 billion, with the taxpayer stumping up €2.5 billion of this,’’ he said.

The Laois Offaly representative said that as Chair of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, he has requested that both National Broadband Ireland (NBI) and the Department of Communication to attend in the New Year so that the broad progress and spending can be examined.

NBI says the Broadband Plan aims to ensure that every home, farm and business in Ireland – regardless of how remote or rural – has access to high-speed broadband. The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) to date has identified more than 554,000 premises across Ireland that require access to high-speed broadband.

It is claimed that the NBP is one of the biggest and most significant investments in rural Ireland ever stretching across 96% of Ireland.

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