Calls have been made on the Government to talk again with both Eir and the ESB regarding the delivery of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) following revelations from Eir that the NBP could be delivered to rural Ireland at a fraction of the current €5 billion cost.
Senator Mac Lochlainn said: “The provision of high-speed broadband to rural Ireland is essential and must be delivered without further delay.
“We must, however, proceed in a way that is both credible and deliverable.
“There is no doubt that the National Broadband Plan (NBP) can be delivered to rural Ireland in a much more affordable way than is currently envisaged by Fine Gael.
“Eir stated at yesterday’s committee meeting that it could deliver the NBP at a fraction of the current €5b cost,” he added.
“We agree with Eir that the NBP can be delivered at a much lower cost, but it is our position that this can be best achieved through using the ESB network.
“The ESB brings with it a strong track record of delivering important infrastructural projects across the State, it has the existing infrastructure there and has a proven capacity to deliver,” the Donegal Senator said.
“The ESB runs electricity to almost every single home in the State and we should be doing what other countries in Europe do which is to have double purpose networks which combine both electricity and broadband.
“The ESB was a frontrunner early on in the NBP procurement process and withdrew following the Government’s decision to allow Eir in 2017 to cherry-pick the 300,000 most easy-to-reach homes in rural Ireland,” Mac Lochlainn added.
“We need the Government to again reach out to the ESB and to direct them as a semi-state body to deliver high-speed broadband to rural Ireland. If Eir can do it for a fraction of the cost, then so can our state-owned ESB.
“Rural Donegal and rural Ireland cannot wait any longer.”