Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher has labelled the Government’s handling of the National Broadband Plan roll out as being “completely shambolic, with further delays, missed deadlines and an overall disastrous planned approach Department.”
The West Donegal TD said the roll-out is well behind schedule, the speeds being offered in certain areas are already out of date and the areas to be covered by commercial operators have still not been finalised.
And he said the lack of any certainty of the future plans for broadband is concerning and what is more concerning is the Governments belief that the plan is working, as judged by the plethora of press releases hailing success on their part.
Pat the Cope said the roll out of the National Broadband Scheme has been slow and disorganised with the original deadline of 2020 now being pushed back to 2023.
Service maps have had to be re-drawn, some areas due to be covered by the State are now falling under the remit of commercial operators and other parts of the country due to be served by these companies are now left in limbo- the entire strategy is lacking coordination on the part of the Government.
ComReg in their recent report stated only 7,623 households in all of Ireland were benefiting from pure fibre Broadband connections, the figures for lesser speed broadband connections are inflated and are not based on actual connections, and the report by ComReg covered the period up to the end of 2016.
Pat the Cope said “I can understand why consumers are frustrated one would of thought that Ireland was floating on a bed of fibre such as the frequency and verbosity of press releases on fibre broadband connections, speeds and availability”
He added the lack of information in relation to the process, as well as the uncertainty over the time-frame is very concerning.
ComReg has also commented on the disparity in Broadband quality across Ireland, with different levels and degree of services available depending on where you reside – this digital apartheid is great cause for concern and one which the Government must introduce regulations in order to avoid.
Consistency of service must be guaranteed across the country regardless of where you live. It is evident that some households will be waiting for more than 6 years for the roll-out of fibre across the country and there is a failure on the part of the Government to properly co-ordinate and to prioritise the broadband rollout in rural Ireland.
“It is a ridiculous situation that over 900,000 premises will have to wait up until 2023 for the NBP to be fully rolled out, but the Government does not seem to understand the urgency of broadband delivery nor are they capable of managing its introduction in a timely fashion or consistent across the country.”
Pat the Cope said this is one of the single biggest issues that is holding rural Ireland back – the lack of proper Broadband, without broadband the full potential of rural Ireland will never be realised.
“I support the assertion of ComReg in their report when they state “Companies typically conflate premises passed by the technology with those actually connected to it – which gives a very misleading impression”. What is needed here is less Government high speed spin and just more high speed Broadband for our communities.”