Broadband and the lack thereof in Co Longford was once again to the fore at a local authority meeting, writes Aisling Kiernan.
The matter which was raised by Cllr Mark Casey (Ind) during a meeting of the county’s municipal districts last week has been the source of much debacle in recent years, however with just 17 areas in the county identified under the National Broadband Scheme (NBS), Cllr Casey said service provision was “an absolute disgrace” and asked that a letter be written to the Department of Energy, Communications and Natural Resources outlining local area representative’s annoyance in respect of the matter.
Cllr Casey said that a recent letter from the Department to Longford Co Council indicated that the scheme was being scrapped altogether and the time had come “to put our feet down”.
“We need broadband, it is as simple as that,” he fumed. “I appreciate that we are not members of the chosen few, but we need to organise a delegation of members and get up to the Minister and get this sorted out once and for all.”
The Cathaoirleach of Co Longford went on to say the county was losing business each and every day because of the matter, and the lack of service placed the county back in the ‘dark ages’.
“As far as I can see there is no plan in place for future broadband services in this county,” he said. “Earlier we were talking about tourism Apps, but sure if we can’t use the App because of the lack of broadband, what is the point? I am proposing that we write a letter to the Minister indicating to him that it is not acceptable to have no broadband in our county.”
The NBS facilitated the provision of basic broadband services to residents and businesses within the NBS Coverage Area and was discontinued last August. “Under EU State Aid rules, this intervention in the market was for a limited duration and the scheme ended following a 68 month operational period at midnight on August 25, 2014,” the Department said in a statement.
“Following the expiry of the Scheme on this date, Three will no longer be required to make available the NBS retail and wholesale services specified under the NBS contract. Broadband coverage will continue to be available throughout the NBS areas on a commercial basis.”
“Of course broadband is a massive issue” added Cllr Paul Ross (FG). “17 areas in this county have been identified as needing the service, so we need a timeline as to when this will be delivered. As far as I am concerned 17 areas is not enough, the whole county needs broadband.”
It was decided that members would firstly identify the ‘blackspots’ in the county, form a list and write to the Minister. A delegation of members will then be selected to meet with the Minister.