No option on rural broadband: Need outweighs huge cost fears

A Cabinet decision on rural broadband due this week may be deferred to a date closer to elections when it might have maximum impact as a sweetener. However, the options are very limited. Rural Ireland must have broadband no matter what the cost.

The kind of society-changing confidence behind the electrification of rural Ireland and the free second level education must apply.

Had those decisions been predicated by cost, we’d still be waiting for the life-changing benefits they brought. It is impossible these days, unless you live in a monastery and have taken a vow of silence, to get through the day without broadband.

Farmers have been told that official Ireland and the official EU have set a date to end hard-paper communications, yet many live in areas where workable, up-to-the-job broadband is as scarce as the corncrake.

Other businesses, essential to sustaining rural Ireland, and that might offer a viable alternative to the relentless concentration of resources and people in the Pale, need it too.

There are questions of cost and the bewildering process that has brought us to this sorry point. At a moment when one international fund or another is changing the fundamentals of trying to buy a home in this country, ownership of the broadband infrastructure is a huge, unsettling issue too. Just like water, it is an essential utility and any state worthy of its independence realises this and acts accordingly.

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