National Broadband Plan
Sir, – It seems that politicians are determined to proceed with the National Broadband Plan, despite the projected costs having increased above €3 billion (News, October 26th). By comparison, a €300,000 home could be bought for 2,000 homeless families in Ireland for just €600 million, the original Red and Green Luas lines in Dublin cost a combined €730 million, and the planned state-of-the-art National Children’s Hospital will cost €1 billion.
The NBP will serve 540,000 homes and business, meaning a subsidy close to €6,000 per unit. If it were delivering a vital service the plan might be more understandable, but the main purpose of fixed broadband (and pretty much its sole domestic purpose) is to allow people to stream video for entertainment. Internet access for more prosaic purposes such as remote working, browsing the web, communicating via messaging services or social media, or receiving and making bookings and orders, requires less capacity and could be provided more easily by improving the mobile network.
The main motivation for the NBP is openly acknowledged to be votes, with Cabinet Ministers admitting to The Irish Times that “broadband is a huge political issue in rural Ireland”.
The huge cost of buying those votes will ultimately be levied across all of the State’s households, at a cost to each of around €1,700. This will happen in a nation that took to the streets in successful mass protests against water charges of just €150 per household. Why are the politicians who led those protests silent about the NBP? At what point does frivolous use of public funds to buy political support become unacceptable? – Yours, etc,