Broadband and rural areas

Mon, Jul 7, 2014, 01:05

Sir, – The announcement of more broadband for the regions, courtesy of ESB and Vodafone is welcome (“ESB and Vodafone to invest €450 million in broadband”, July 2nd). The unique proposal seeks to carry the necessary fibre, using existing electricity lines from supplier to customer, reaching around 500,000 premises. However, we are also aware that this same market is also targeted by Eircom, who with a different system also plan to reach these regions.

Presumably, such plans are regarded as commercially viable; otherwise these companies would have no interest. Except that there are another 500,000 customers outside these areas, who no one seems interested in. These are premises in the smaller towns, villages and scattered town lands, where commerciality is a problem. Of course, if the commercial criteria to providing broadband were applied to electricity supply, then most of rural Ireland would be in the dark.

The overall uncritical welcome of the announcement avoids the ultimate question – is sustainable broadband to all of Ireland achievable? Perhaps the current drive by all companies concerned may reach some of the last 500,000 premises. However, the realistic assumption that the achievement of this goal will only occur with State assistance must now be accepted as a fact. The sooner we accept this fact, the sooner we can adopt a policy which establishes the cost of such a subsidy, how we can afford it and when we will organise the tendering process to deliver broadband to all areas, the better. – Yours, etc,

SÉAMUS BOLAND,

Irish Rural Link,

Moate, Co Westmeath.