With regard to rural broadband services, the Government need to ensure that this service is not owned privately, When we had Telecom Eireann we decided to privatise it and we saw the difficulties that happened from that decision. The Government are going down the road of privatising the broadband service but we would would be better off to own the infrastructure and leave it in public hands. To hand out permits to private operators would be a license to print money and we could be leaving the service in the hands of operators who might not adhere to the regulations. If there isn’t legislation passed wherby you can join up with existing suppliers it will take competition out of the market. I have been calling for legislation to be introduced in this area.
At the speeds they are talking about at the moment, it would appear that a target of 80 mg is now down to 30 mg and we need to ensure that businesses in rural areas, especially manafacturing businesses, have the broadband speed that they require. This is a vital issue but the facts are that we have lost a couple of months time once again. It is going to be next June before the suppliers are put in place. Contracts should be awarded on how quickly it can be delivered, and as I have said before, if the contracts are delivered ahead of time then a bonus should be given and if the contract is late then there is a penalty.
In view of today’s announcement I am calling on Minister Dennis Naughten to rethink the decision to totally privatise this service because in the long run, this course of action will not be in the interests of the public particularly in rural Ireland.