A report recently compiled by the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) has highlighted the growing divide between rural and urban broadband provision in Ireland.
The Regional Telecommunications Study was launched in Leinster House, Dublin, on Thursday, 13th December 2012.
A key finding of the Telecomms study found that in Leitrim, Sligo, Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan areas there are major infrastructural weaknesses in the availability of fixed line broadband telecommunications. This has adversely impacted on the speed and quality of broadband available to subscribers. Many ‘Not Spots’, i.e areas without any broadband coverage, have been identified and highlighted within the report. To address the issues with telecommunications ICBAN has set out a range of recommendations and actions through 5 key Pillars.
ICBAN’s Telecommunications Vision for the Central Border Region is to have an advanced broadband infrastructure capable of delivering download speeds of at least 100Mbps to 50% of premises, and delivering download speeds of at least 24Mbps to the remaining 50% of premises by 2017. In order to achieve this and to resolve the inequalities highlighted within the Telecomms Report, ICBAN will work with central government, local government, private telecommunications operators, planning authorities and other key stakeholders. This will include lobbying for greater investment in telecommunications infrastructure in the Central Border Region.
Speaking at the launch of the Telecomms Report, Cllr Sean McDermott, Chair of the Telecomms Working Group said; “The Telecomms report has highlighted that there are rural deficiencies in telecommunications. These are a reality and a source of genuine frustration to those who are experiencing them. This launch provides ICBAN with an excellent opportunity to discuss and raise questions on these inequalities, but this is only an initial step. We now need to focus on the implementation of the report. ICBAN has an important role to play in facilitating the coming together of all the stakeholders identified within the report. With combined efforts and joined-up working, we can begin to implement the actions and recommendations outlined.”
Fine Gael TD for Roscommon/South Leitrim, Frank Feighan, has urged Minister Pat Rabbitte to consider the contents of the report.
“Worryingly, the WDC report highlights an increasing urban-rural divide in available bandwidth speeds. At a time when many rural areas are suffering from a poor or non-existent service, next generation broadband services are already being rolled out in some urban areas offering speeds of up to 150Mbps to domestic users,” he said.
“Availability of high-quality affordable broadband is essential to the economic and social development of the Western Region and I’m not surprised that the Government’s National Broadband Plan is being described as ‘the rural electrification of the 21st century’. That is why I am strongly urging the Minister to consider the contents of this WDC report,” concluded Deputy Feighan.
Copies of the both studies are available to download at www.icban.com.