Bruton set to bring forward recommendation on NBP

Richard Bruton, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, is set to bring forward a recommendation to the Government on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) with the aim of getting the cabinet’s go-ahead for the project.

Although a particular date for the minister’s recommendation has not been confirmed, a spokesperson from his department suggested to AgriLand that it would be brought forward in the very near future.

The spokesperson added: “The NBP aims to ensure that every home, school and business in Ireland – regardless of how remote or rural – has access to high speed broadband.

This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment across Ireland; and state intervention in those mostly rural areas where commercial operators acting alone are unlikely to invest.

The spokesperson added that: “The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000 – or 30% – of all 2.3 million Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of premises can access high speed broadband.”

TD response

The plan has already been “cautiously welcomed” by one rural TD.

However, Mattie McGrath, an Independent TD for Tipperary, said that the cabinet must consider the “likely budgetary impact” that approval of the plan would have on other areas of rural development.

The estimated cost of the Government’s broadband plan is around €3 billion at present. That is almost 14 times the entire allocation rural Ireland will get from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development in 2019, which comes in at €220 million.

“What is even more troubling is the fact that despite this cost, the state will still not have ownership of the broadband infrastructure after we pay for it,” McGrath continued.

He concluded by saying: “Questions remain, however, around how this will ultimately impact the delivery of all other rural programmes and schemes, and whether their budgets will be slashed to pay for what has essentially been yet another disastrous procurement process conducted by this Government.”