There is growing unquiet over how the decision by eir to pull out of the National Broadband Plan will impact on counties like Longford
eir has quit the National Broadband Plan, leaving the Government’s rural broadband rollout with just one remaining bidder.
The Government insists that the move will not derail the state-sponsored project, which promises high speed internet to every rural household and business in the country.
Cllr Paul Ross (FG) in Legan - one of the country’s largest broadband blackspots - says, he will believe in the roll out when he sees it.
“Certainly nothing has changed in this area in respect of broadband speeds,” he added, before pointing to the fact that when Imagine moved into the area, only those within the sight line of Ardagh mountain could access the service.
“People, like myself, who need the benefit of the Government scheme regard it as disappointing to see eir pull out. We are anxiously waiting for high speed broadband in Legan.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Ross says that rural Ireland will be left behind if the State broadband scheme is not rolled out soon.
“Denis Naughten TD says that eir pulling out will only speed up the processs now, but I will believe that when I see it,” the local area representative in Legan continued.
“The important thing now is that the company that is left in the race is given all the resources it needs to roll out broadband effectively.
“We are tired of excuses now; rural Ireland is losing out when it comes to broadband.”
Meanwhile, Minister for Communications Denis Naughten TD confirmed that his department would continue to engage intensively with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the provision of reliable high quality, high speed broadband to all premises in Ireland.
“When the procurement process reaches a satisfactory conclusion for the Government, a contract will be awarded and the network rollout will commence,” the Minister added.
Longford/Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD, Robert Troy told the Leader this week that thousands of homes and businesses across the midlands could be left without access to high speed broadband as a result of what he describes as “the Government’s mismanagement of the National Broadband Plan”.
“The decision by eir to withdraw from the tendering process for the National Broadband Plan speaks volumes about the Government’s handling of the situation,” the local TD fumed.
“The cracks began to emerge last year when SIRO decided not to proceed with a bid, and since then concern has been raised about the complicated nature of the process.
“Minister Naughten has serious questions to answer; he has failed to prioritise the roll out of high speed broadband to rural areas and now it appears as if the National Broadband Plan is hanging by a thread.
“I am not at all confident that it can proceed with just one bidder.”