The decision by Eir to pull out of the procurement process for the rollout of rural broadband was described by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) as extremely concerning.
ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock said the rollout process has been beset with delays but Eir’s move, leaving only one company in the running, has the potential to scupper the whole project. He said it was completely unacceptable in this day and age that farmers, businesses and rural communities around the country are being significantly held back by the lack of broadband.
“The rest of the world is moving on and farmers are required to complete more of their applications for schemes online but this is impossible if you don’t have those facilities,” he said.
Mr Sherlock said the withdrawal of Eir means the consortium led by energy group SSE and telecoms firm Enet is the sole remaining bidder.
“This is a real concern. Over 500,000 homes and businesses in rural Ireland are now reliant on this consortium. Where will we be if they too pull out and even if they remain how can we expect to get a fair result in a one horse race,” he said.
Mr Sherlock called on Communications Minister Denis Naughten to clarify the situation as matter of urgency.
The Minister said earlier that his Department will continue to engage intensively with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the earliest possible achievement of the Government’s objective of providing reliable high quality, high speed broadband to all premises in Ireland.
When the procurement process reaches a satisfactory conclusion for Government, a contract will be awarded and the network rollout will commence, he said.