Broadband strategy has not delivered

Sir, – John Thompson Mr Lucas (letters 01/08/2018) (August 1st) questions the national broadband plan and proposes broadband deprivation as a cure to wilful isolation and unsustainable bungalows in remote areas. The savings, he writes, could build new children's hospitals in Cork and Dublin.

Universal high-quality broadband is primarily about saving money. The Government’s reform agenda aims to deliver services that are “digital by design” or “born digital”. That includes e-government initiatives from health to distance learning. It saves no money if these services have to be provided in parallel, in bricks-and-mortar form, for those who cannot avail of competent broadband connections.

Mr Lucas might have a point about legacy bad planning. In which case we would suggest that he puts together a legislative remedy, complete with costings, and finds politicians who will run with it. Such a programme is going to take a while to implement, and someone will have to pay. Relocation of 542,000 premises and their occupants will not come quick or cheap.

We’re sticking with “fibre to the home” while we wait to see some realistic proposals for “home to the fibre”. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 7.

Sir, – Had John Thompson lived in the Victorian era he would no doubt have penned a missive to the British authorities arguing that the provision of a national postal service at the same delivery charge to every corner of the British Isles, including Ireland, would not make economic sense. Fortunately the naysayers of that period were ignored. The postal service’s modern equivalent (and complementary service), namely broadband, is something Mr Thompson would now deny to those parts of the country he considers too remote.

In determining remoteness, he furnishes us with the spurious statement that Ireland has “of course” the highest percentage population in the EU living in remote areas. There are 15 countries in the EU with larger populations and larger land masses than Ireland. Clearly remoteness is not a problem peculiar to Ireland.

In winding up, Mr Thompson suggests that “if people really want Netflix that much, they could just move to a town with fibre”. Perhaps Mr Thompson should move out of his town with fibre more often and visit those parts of Ireland where companies, hotels, schools, etc, struggle to operate because of lack of suitable broadband connectivity. Access to Netflix is the least of their problems.

Mr Thompson should also bear in mind that broadband is a two-way medium. Businesses in his own part of the world would also benefit from having more customers with whom to do business as a result of the implementation of the national broadband plan. – Yours, etc,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – A fair proportion of rural dwellers are farmers, who feed us, and small businesses, which form 80 per cent of our indigenous economy. All require broadband to conduct their business. Moving to town would actually put pressure on housing that is largely non-existent and drive the urban cost of living higher. We see this problem writ large in spiralling rent costs and infrastructure overload in Dublin, coupled with lack of investment in regional and rural development.

I note that Phibsboro in Dublin enjoys broadband up to 100Mb/s for as little as €24 per month. Fibre to each rural house, farm and small business is neither necessary nor asked for. A reliable wireless solution that delivers up to 50Mb/s uncapped at a cost of less than €50 per month would suit most of us fine.

After 15 years of stalled national broadband strategies and botched procurement processes, is this too much to ask for? – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.