Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has been informed by Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Joe McHugh, that the National Broadband Plan process will look at prioritising broadband blackspots.
“This week in the Dáil, I highlighted the importance of prioritising areas with the poorest coverage in this National Broadband Plan. This plan must focus on ensuring that rural Ireland enjoys similar opportunities to urban areas in terms of access to high speed connectivity; and that’s why I believe areas with poor or no broadband must prioritised.
“The Broadband deficit is huge in many rural areas. There are many areas in Longford and Westmeath which either have no broadband or patchy connectivity at best.
“Minister McHugh told me in the Dáil that part of the necessary analysis for the National Broadband Plan will be to examine the feasibility of identifying and prioritising particular parts of the country that might be considered black-spots in terms of overall quality of existing broadband coverage.
“Minister McHugh said that a detailed intervention strategy will be submitted to Government in mid-2015. A detailed procurement process will then be undertaken in order to select a potential preferred bidder or bidders towards the end of 2015.
“This national plan to deliver high-speed broadband to every corner of the country is very welcome. However, the broadband issue has almost become a toxic one for many rural communities who have heard about many national schemes over the years which have never materialised.
“High-quality affordable broadband is essential to the economic and social development of cities, towns, villages and townlands and I look forward to a time in the not-too-distant future when rural communities will no longer feel that having decent broadband coverage is nothing more than a pipe dream.”