New concerns over broadband for rural areas

A Fianna Fail councillor in the region is claiming the National Broadband Scheme is now unlikely to be in place until 2021 at the earliest.

Cavan councillor John Paul Feeley was reacting to the latest announcement of a new broadband contract having been signed between the Department of Communications and Eir.

Cllr Feeley says it’s not good news for rural Ireland.

The new contract with Eir means the number of homes included in the State-subsidised National Broadband Plan has now been slashed as future service provision for 300,000 homes is now handed over to Eir.

Ocean FM News is awaiting a response from the Department on what it means for the North West Sligo/Leitrim/Donegal region in particular.

Adding to the uncertainty is that rival bidders to Eir say they may now hold off participating in the State-scheme for more than half a million rural homes and businesses.

There are two other bidders for the bigger National Broadband Plan.

It means the government is now unable to say when the rollout to the majority of homes in the country will actually begin.

However, Eir chief executive Richard Moat says his company is investing in rural Ireland in what he described as ‘one of the largest infrastructure projects in Ireland today.’

He promises that by the end of next year, more than 300,000 additional homes, farms and businesses will have access to the fastest broadband speeds, ‘benefitting rural communities right across the country.’

Communications Minister Denis Naughten brushed off the prospect of legal action by the rival bidders to Eir for the National Plan.

And he is insisting the majority of homes not serviced by Eir will be covered by the end of 2020.

But Councillor Feeley is not so confident: