Broadband plan leaves rural communities waiting years for results say Murphy

Galway daily news Eugene Murphy elected to the Seanad

The €3 billion National Broadband Plan is a disappointment to rural communities as it will take years longer to connect rural areas than hoped, and at three times the original price Eugene Murphy has said.

The National Broadband Plan will connect 135,118 premises with high speed fibre internet at a price tag of just under €3 billion, up from €1 billion when the plan was first conceived.

Galway TD Eugene Murphy said that “For many of us, particularly in the rural areas, we have been waiting indefinitely for the provision of high-speed broadband. Now, we have another ten years before this project is completed.”

The government recently announced recently that it had chosen a preferred bidder in the National Broadband Ireland consortium led by Granahan McCourt.

However, the final contract is not yet ready and isn’t expected to be signed until Autumn, with work hopefully commencing this year. Once it does, the Department of Communications has given a cautious outline of seven years to connect every home.

“It is taking three times longer and costing six times the original price,” Deputy Murphy said “On top of that, the State will not own the network built and paid for by the taxpayer.”

There was outrage from many sides at the recent news that the private bidder will only contribute €220 million to the cost of the national broadband infrastructure, far below the €974 million level mentioned previously.

But the government has said that if there is any delay in the rollout of the plan the company will have to put up more equity for it.

Eugene Murphy said that people should be “rightly sceptical” about the government’s timeline for broadband connection  “given the fact that every other timeline on this project has been missed.”

NBI will also retain ownership of the infrastructure once the project is completed, something which has sparked furious reactions from the opposition in the past week.

The Department of Public Expenditure “strongly recommended” against the government signing off on this deal, considering it bad value for money.

Others are more optimistic about the broadband plan, with Galway TD and former Minister for Communications Denis Naughten calling the recent announcement a “historic day” which marks a “turning point for the revitalisation of rural Ireland”.

Deputy Murphy acknowledged that fibre broadband will be welcome in rural areas once the project is completed.

“Yet, how we got to this point, and the next ten years as the service is slowly rolled out, is massively disappointing for those of us in rural Ireland”.