National broadband delivery delayed

 

PLANS TO roll out the national broadband scheme have taken "slightly longer than we would have liked", said Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan. However, he hoped the scheme would be delivered by mid-2010, "which is the rough timeline set out".

Fine Gael communications spokesman Simon Coveney insisted, however, the project to deliver universal broadband would be delayed by at least a year to the end of 2010 rather than the original 2009 deadline.

Mr Ryan "has been in charge for 18 months" and "people have simply lost patience" with him because of his action, Mr Coveney said.

The scheme aims to deliver broadband to areas where the market has failed to provide services. A contract is expected to be signed in November with one of two bidders - Eircom Ltd and Hutchison 3G Ireland.

"Subject to agreement with the chosen service provider, roll-out of services is expected to begin shortly after the contract is signed. The chosen service provider will be required to complete the roll-out of services within 22 months of the contract award," the Minister said.

Mr Coveney said if there was a 22-month roll-out for universal broadband, the deadline would be delayed a year to the end of 2010, and there was "significant frustration" about the whole issue.

Mr Ryan said the scheme "has taken slightly longer than we would have liked. My hope is that the detailed work that has gone into the preparation of the contract in advance . . . will mean we will have swift roll-out and delivery on the commitment within it by mid-2010, which is the rough timeline set out".

Mr Coveney also questioned the Government's commitment to broadband, when there was a 25 per cent budget from €53 million this year to €40 million in 2009.