Broadband Services

February 26th, 2008 - Pat Breen

^ Private Members’ Business. ^

^ Broadband Services: Motion. ^

The following motion was moved by Deputy Simon Coveney in Dáil Éireann on Tuesday, 26 February 2008:

Deputy Pat Breen: I commend Deputy Coveney for tabling this motion and on his recent policy document, “Creating a Fibre Nation”, which charts the way forward for broadband availability.

Yesterday, the European Competitive Telecommunications Association issued a report showing that Ireland is lagging behind our European competitors, ranked 12th out of 15, ahead only of Italy, Portugal and Greece. This comes as no surprise. During the election campaign, broadband was raised with us as a significant issue on every doorstep. We all remember the bridge at Lenane in County Galway that collapsed and cut off communication last year. However, many communities have been cut off from the broadband superhighway. For many people, booking a flight on-line takes just a few minutes. For others with a bad dial-up connection, it could take hours.

Next Friday is work-life balance day, yet many of my constituents and those in other constituencies are unable to take up the option of combining work and family responsibilities due to the lack of broadband. When I asked Eircom last year about the lack of broadband in County Clare, it advised me that 23 exchanges remain to be upgraded. Eircom told me that, in my neighbouring parish of Kildysart with which the Minister of State, Deputy Killeen, is familiar, broadband will be delivered in the second quarter of 2008. Last week, it told me that the roll-out would be delayed until 2009. This delay is typical of what is occurring in many communities. Eircom told me that broadband is being delayed in Kildysart because the radio link upgrade required to provide capacity for broadband at the exchange needed further investment. This is a significant problem.

In Deputy Dooley’s contribution, he referred to E-Training International based at Scarrif, which introduced a satellite broadband pilot scheme. The cost of satellite broadband is a deterrent for many due to its expense. Many communities are taking the initiative, such as the Loop Head Broadband Group, a proactive group bringing broadband to local communities, and eTown in Miltown Malbay, a template for how economic development can be enhanced in rural communities.

The lack of MANS in many areas is a problem. While there is a network in Kilrush, there is none in Ennis or Shannon. The Minister of State is a constituency colleague of mine, but I urge the Department to fast-track MANS for the areas in Clare without. I urge the Government to reconsider and support the motion.