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Former Communications Minister Hits Out At Latest National Broadband Plan Delays

A revised target for 2021 is set to be missed by around 25,000 homes.

The National Broadband Plan will connect only 35,000 homes and businesses by the end of the year - compared to the latest target of 60,000. 

The initial aim was 115,000, but that was scaled back after Covid-related delays. 

Junior Minister Ossian Smyth says the revised target will also be missed by 25,000. 

Former communications minister, Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten hit out at the news in the dáil: 

It is deeply disappointing that revised targets set just last September will not be reached by the end of December.

“In reality this means there is a further delay in the delivery of broadband to homes, which is now running 12 months behind target - six months more than was admitted to just last September,” said Denis Naughten.

“These delays are due, at least in part, to the failure of Government over the last two years to address bottlenecks within the planning and regulatory system.

“Just yesterday Minister Ossian Smyth sat down with the Chief Executives of eir and National Broadband Ireland to help address the delays in the build out of this vital infrastructural project. While this is very welcome, one has to ask the question why did we have to wait 25 months into the contract for this meeting to happen?” asks Denis Naughten.

“Up to the signing of the broadband contract, the Mobile Phone & Broadband Taskforce specifically addressed key bottlenecks in the delivery of vital broadband infrastructure across the country, but it did not hold a single meeting after the contract with National Broadband Ireland (NBI) was signed in November 2019 and this is at least one factor.

“I welcome the fact that the Government has now reversed this decision and has re-established the Taskforce, but this should not have taken two years for this to happen,” said Denis Naughten.

“In reality this means that 100,000 less homes will have access to the high-speed broadband network at the end of next year than was planned when the contract was signed in November 2019.”

Denis Naughten added: “As a member of Cabinet, I chaired the Mobile Phone & Broadband Task Force to ensure the focus across both the public and private sector was to make things happen on the ground that would make a real difference.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that this Taskforce did not hold any meeting since the signing of the National Broadband Plan contract, and it is now clear that a multi-agency approach, led from the Cabinet table, is needed to get this project back on track and to fast-track the delivery of the most important infrastructure project of this generation.

“The current Programme for Government, published after Covid-19 hit, promised to fast track the delivery of high-speed broadband to every home in Ireland but all we have seen since then is hand-wringing and little in the way of action. In fact, the most significant step taken by this Government on broadband is to move responsibility for its delivery from the Cabinet table to Minister of State, Ossian Smyth, which sends out the wrong message across the public sector,”

 

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