On October 22nd I will be bringing forward my Broadband Bill during Private Members Time in the Seanad. I published my bill a year ago and still the Government has failed to provide universal, high-speed broadband to every household and business in Ireland. I am committed to pushing my bill through the Houses and I would like to enlist your support once more.
The main provisions of the Bill include:
- Targets for the establishment of universal 5 Megabit broadband coverage by the end of 2009, and for universal 20 Megabit coverage by 2012;
- The establishment of a National Broadband Network which will include all private and public infrastructure for the delivery of universal coverage;
- The establishment of a National Broadband Commission to represent broadband consumers and to co-ordinate the implementation of the Network. Its members must be approved by the Joint Committee of Communications Energy and Natural Resources. It will report directly to the Minister;
- Provisions obliging the Minister to report on the NBC’s progress to the Joint Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on a semi-annual basis;
Regulatory reform including increased powers for Comreg to guarantee free competition in broadband provision.
Broadband is a huge infrastructure resource that needs to be brought up to first class levels.
Internet access is as important to the future of our country, economy and its people as other utilities are. I doubt that the Government would countenance the lack of sufficient electricity power and distribution. We need firm action and in the current global economic crisis, Ireland needs to invest- now more than ever- in infrastructure to see us through these dark times.