The recent signing of the €3 billion National Broadband Plan has been welcomed, but concerns have still been raised about costs, timelines, and the potential legal challenges.
The NBP includes €153 million for Galway, which will bring high-speed broadband to 38,338 homes across the county.
The contract with the consortium delivering the plan was signed this week, nearly seven years after the government first began work on it.
And while the news has been broadly welcomed, there are still concerns abut the cost of the plan, which has ballooned from €1 billion in 2012 to €3 billion now.
Galway-Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice said that the cost of the plan cannot be allowed to spiral any further.
“There are already concerns that the €3 million price tag will impact other projects, though Government ministers are trying to play this down.”
“People deserve the right to have access to high-speed broadband,” Michael Fitzmaurice said.
“This service has the potential to offer a new lease of life to rural parts of the country, by attracting employers and allowing people to work remotely.”
“However, these people cannot be held to ransom for this service. The cost to the consumer for this high-speed broadband needs to be fair and affordable.”
It is hoped that National Broadband Ireland, the company awarded the contract by Government, will begin rolling out 147,000km of fibre to homes, farms, businesses and schools across the country in the coming months.
While it is currently expected that it will take roughly seven years to roll out the service to all of the 540,000 rural homes and businesses targeted, it is hoped that the majority will be connected within three years.
Continuing, Fitzmaurice said: “This entire process has dragged out for far too long already. We first began talking about the National Broadband Plan 7 years ago.”
“It has been dogged by delays ever since its inception. It cannot afford any further setbacks.”
Deputy Fitzmaurice also raised concerns about reports that commercial broadband operators are preparing to launch a legal challenge to the Plan.
They are reportedly planning to make a legal claim that focuses on support being provided by the state to a commercial operator in the areas the NBP targets.
““If such an event was to happen, where would that leave the plan? The people of rural Ireland cannot be forced to wait any longer for this critical service,” Michael Fitzmaurice said.
The government has dismissed any concerns about such a legal challenge, saying that the EU has