Cork homes and businesses being left behind for broadband access

Cork homes and businesses being left behind for broadband access

Private high-speed broadband providers are holding the Government to "ransom", according to a county councillor who has described the rollout in rural Cork as “abysmal”.

Blarney-Macroom Cllr Kevin Conway (Ind) said some areas in his constituency had estates where fibre broadband was available in some households but not in others.

The National Broadband Plan exists to provide high-speed connections to areas not considered commercial by private operators. However, some households in covered areas are still not being connected, councillors have said.

“The companies are holding the Government to ransom for more intervention. That is not the way it was planned and we need to start making noise on this,” said Cllr Conway.

“I'm inclined to think that by the time any rural areas get broadband fibre will be out of date. I think it's a national disgrace. People and businesses are depending on broadband,” he added.

Independent Cllr Marcia D'Alton said the issue of staggered rollout was also affecting areas quite close to Cork city.

“People are trying to run businesses in Monkstown and they cannot get decent broadband. There is a fibre cabinet in the town which is yet to be switched on. It's appalling and Monkstown, on a good day, is just 15 minutes from the city centre,” she said.

Cllr Des O'Grady (SF) said local representatives were receiving a lot of complaints from people who can't access fibre broadband either from private companies or through the Government.

Director of services at Cork County Council's environment directorate Louis Duffy admitted the National Broadband Plan had been complicated by private companies.

“It's quite a challenge to get the National Broadband Plan implemented in full. While it was reasonably well on target six months ago, some of the activity of private companies have brought an additional complexity into it," he said.

"It's reducing the numbers in the National Broadband Plan and I suppose overall it's increasing the number of houses with broadband but it is making more and more challenging to find what is the final number where there will be need for State intervention.

“We have broadband officer in place and he is working within the environment directorate. His primary role is in dealing with the Department and looking at the conditions on the ground.

“It is extremely disappointing that the programme is stretching and stretching and every time there is a commercial operator that offers to bring its services into another geographical area without subvention, it changes the terms of the tender in the project and reduces the number of houses that would be supported by the intervention of the Government," he added.

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