Economist: Government should 'look at the broadband plan again'

Economist John Fitzgerald has said that the Government should “go back and look at the broadband plan again.”

The original contract was too complex in its nature which was why other bidders had withdrawn from the process, he said.

“The State just didn’t want the risk,” he told RTE radio’s Morning Ireland.

He said that “running a cable up the side of a road can be quantified,” but what cannot be quantified is how many will take up a service.

A private contractor would not know how many customers will take up a service so they needed to factor that in.

The Government feels the need to deliver for rural Ireland so they had made a political decision, he said.

Yes they know that this is bad value, but they feel politically they need to do it.”

He added that it was up to civil servants to provide advice and it is up to the political system to say they have other considerations. This was a common occurrence but what was unusual in this case was the size of the project.

Professor Fitzgerald also warned that as technology is changing other cheaper alternatives could become available. It was a mistake to commit to providing fibre for every home in rural Ireland, he said.

“It may be over engineering. Instead they should be asking ‘what kind of broadband width do you need?’

“How would you meet that need? That could be met in another way.”

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