Communications Minister Denis Naughton came under fire from local politicians following the withdrawal of eir from the National Broadband Plan bidding process despite claiming that the pull-out will speed up the delivery of high-speed broadband nationwide.
“Enet SSE can get on with the bidding process that they are currently involved in with the contractors that will do the work. This means that we can get shovels into the ground quicker, we can build out this network quicker and that’s good for the 542,000 homes and businesses in rural Ireland that are currently waiting in frustration for high-speed broadband,” he said.
Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy responded by claiming that the National Broadband Plan has now descended into “farcical shambles”.
“The roll-out of the National Broadband Plan has been beset with one delay after another. It was promised in 2011 for delivery in 2016, delayed until 2023, and now with Enet as the only remaining bidder it has descended into a chaotic mess - how can we be sure we are getting value for money with one sole bidder left in the race? We now have over 540,000 households left in serious broadband limbo land,” he said.
The Fianna Fáil TD raised fears that the “growing imbalance between the greater Dublin area and the regions” would get worse if projects such as the National Broadband Plan were not rolled out.
Senator Maura Hopkins said the withdrawal of eir and the earlier withdrawal of SIRO raised serious questions over the ability of the plan to deliver broadband for rural communities.
“I receive many calls on a weekly basis from individuals and businesses in our region who are completely frustrated with the poor quality of their broadband. It is simply not good enough.
“Minister Naughten, when in opposition prior to the last general election, had stated that the planned 2021 roll-out of rural broadband was not acceptable and needed to be fast tracked. However, since that election these targets have slipped further. Minister Naughten recently committed to a target of 2023 and now this withdrawal by eir puts that revised target again into question,” she concluded.