Ibec seeks broadband action over huge shortfalls in coverage

Ibec seeks broadband action over huge shortfalls in coverage
Communications Minister Denis Naughten.

By Pádraig Hoare

Business group Ibec said a county-by-county survey shows that tens of thousands of premises across the State urgently need a proper broadband service.

“The time had come for the State to act” and implement the National Broadband Plan (NBP), it said, citing Department of Communications figures that showed some 23% of homes and businesses — 537,000 premises — are relying on the plan for coverage nationally.

Just 1.5% of Dublin premises — or 9,100 homes and businesses — would need to rely on the plan.

Every county in the Republic other than Dublin has at least 14% of homes and businesses that need to be part of the plan, according to Ibec.

Only Dublin, Kildare and Louth have less than 20% of homes and businesses that will need coverage under the plan. Cork has the highest number of premises in the country that need to be included in the NBP, with more than 74,000 homes and businesses, or almost 28%, relying on it.

However, Cork fares much better than Kerry, Clare, and Tipperary, who each have approximately one-third reliant on the plan.

Monaghan and Roscommon have just under half of homes and businesses relying on the NBP, while more than 40% of Mayo and Cavan would need the State’s help.

Leitrim is the county most dependent on the NBP, with more than half of homes and businesses relying on it, according to official figures.

Over 11,000 homes and businesses — almost 51% — in Leitrim had no access to broadband without the plan.

Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy said: “Successful rollout of the NBP is essential to bring high-speed broadband to the 23% of homes and businesses in the State that are not commercially viable for the private sector to service directly.

“Without access to world-class broadband, our regions cannot be expected to develop and nurture the next generation of indigenous start-ups and SMEs.”

The future of the plan is under a cloud after Eir pulled out of the tendering process last week, leaving just a single bidder.

The NBP has been beset by delays since 2012 when first mooted.

Enet is the solitary bidder after Eir followed Siro, a joint venture between Vodafone and the ESB, in pulling out. Communications Minister Denis Naughten this week rejected calls for a review of the bidding process, saying it would delay the plan being put into place.

He said the implementation of the plan would take “three to five years” after the contract was awarded.

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