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Government Concedes to Demands for Intervention where Broadband Provision not Commercially Viable

Posted on: September 27th, 2006

In a two hour debate in the Seanad, I put the following motion before the House:

“That Seanad Éireann condemns the failure of the Government to ensure that broadband is available to every business and household in Ireland and calls on it to take immediate measures to remove us from the bottom of the European broadband league.”

The issue of broadband provision is a hugely important one, and is being consistently ignored by the Government. I told the Seanad, “I move this motion on broadband in the full knowledge and with certain surprise that the number of column inches and the number of minutes devoted to broadband in this and the other House is painfully small.

It seems to be one of the crying problems of the economy and desperately needs attention, particularly political attention. We only need to consider the statistics issued by various bodies to understand how badly Ireland is doing in the broadband stakes…”

The greatest danger regarding broadband is that we are falling behind our competitors. I told the Minister,

“We may have a knowledge economy, but we cannot market it properly because we do not have sufficient broadband resources. I am staggered by the smugness and blindness of the Government side to this particular problem, which is staring us in the face and will come back and bite us in the near future.”

I succeeded in making progress on the issue. The Minister promised that the Government was in favour of supporting broadband where it was not commercially feasible. He told the Seanad:

“Despite Ireland’s rapidly expanding broadband market I accept there are some areas of the country where the sector will be unable to justify the provision of broadband connectivity on a commercial basis. The time has come to address this issue. The Minister is currently examining options in this regard and he hopes to be in a position to bring proposals to Government shortly.”

However, I will continue to press the Governmnet on this issue. It must address the three key issues with respect to broadband provision: We must have Access, Availability, and Adoption. The Government must overcome the lack of each of these before the issue of broadband can be put to rest!

To read the full debate between myself and the Minister, click here.