Offaly TD blasts delays in National Broadband Plan rollout
Independent TD for Laois Offaly Carol Nolan has said that every effort must be made to rapidly escalate the provision and roll-out of high-speed broadband within the constituency and across rural Ireland.
Deputy Nolan was speaking after it was revealed this week that a mere 4,000 homes and businesses have been connected under the National Broadband Plan in the first half of this year, out of a target of 115,000 by the end of the year.
“It is absolutely scandalous that National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company that was awarded the €3 billion contract by the Government, have failed so spectacularly in reaching the most minimal levels of its connectivity targets.
"Covid restrictions aside, that is truly an appalling percentage of connections
"This makes a mockery of all the Government talk about generating inward investment, addressing regional economic imbalances and the seemingly endless plans to allow for greater levels remote working for staff.
"Last November during Leaders Questions in the Dáil I raised the slowness of the roll-out with the Taoiseach. At that time, I told him that Facebook had announced that it was building a 37,000-kilometre-long undersea cable around Africa to provide it with better internet access.
"The cable will connect 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe and at 37,000 kilometres — or about 23,000 miles — in length, Facebook claims the cable will be “nearly equal to the circumference of the Earth.”
"Now compare this to our own situation, where almost a decade on from 2011, we are still having to raise basic issues around rural broadband.
"I am routinely contacted by employers and third-level students in Laois and Offaly who continue to experience poor, interrupted service while trying to maintain contact with their colleges or customers.
“There is simply no excuse for the level of delay that many areas of rural Ireland continue to experience when it comes to accessing high quality broadband especially given the billions we are paying NBI.
"It is a constant source of frustration for employers and students who find that they cannot maintain an even half decent level of connection.
"I have also specifically discussed this matter with the employer representative body, Ibec. During my last meeting with Ibec, it was made very clear at that meeting that the midlands is very much disadvantaged by the lack of proper broadband.
"That simply cannot be allowed to continue,” concluded Deputy Nolan.
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