The roll out of broadband for Leitrim has been incredibly slow
Over 90% of Leitrim properties requiring the intervention of the National Broadband Plan will not be connected until 2025 or 2026, the latter part of the rollout according to figures released by Leitrim County Council.
The failure of the National Broadband Scheme to meet rollout deadlines and the lengthy wait for households in Leitrim requiring State intervention to obtain high-speed services has been roundly criticised by Leitrim County Council members.
Cllr Sean McDermott and Cllr Brendan Barry both brought forward motions on the rollout of broadband provision in the county and Director of Services, Joseph Gilhooly acknowledged that over 90% of Leitrim properties will not see the benefit of the National Broadband Scheme until 2025 and 2025, the latter part of the national rollout.
Following Cllr McDermott’s call for an update on the provision in Leitrim, it was noted that there are currently nearly 11,500 properties identified by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications requiring State intervention. This accounts for 51.4% of all premises in the county including homes, farms, commercial businesses, and schools.
Under the National Broadband Plan, Leitrim will see an investment of €46m in a new high-speed fibre broadband network that will service premises within these intervention areas.
National Broadband Ireland (NBI) is the company that was awarded the contract to roll out the broadband network. They are actively surveying locations throughout Leitrim and to date, they have completed surveying in Keshcarrigan, Drumcong, Drumshambo, Mohercregg, Aughnasheelin, Rooskey, Foxfield, Fenagh, Ballinamore, Gorvagh, Kilnagross, Kilclare, Effrinagh and Eslinbridge.
The surveys will be used to create a mapping blueprint for how fibre broadband will be delivered throughout Leitrim. Work is also progressing on the creation of 11 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) identified in Leitrim at community halls and GAA parks and alongside these 15 primary schools within the intervention areas are also being connected for educational access as part of the National Broadband Plan. Two schools have been connected to date and the remaining 13 are in planning for this year and the first quarter of 2023.
However Cllr McDermott said that the ongoing delays in the rollout were unacceptable at a time when being able to work remotely was never more important.
He also pointed out a number of issues including partial connections in communities such as Drumkeerin village - where half can avail of high speed broadband, while the remainder were unable to do so - was simply unacceptable.
Cllr Justin Warnock and Cllr Mary Bohan added their support to the call for a speedup of the rollout and stressed the need for greater clarity on timelines.
Cllr Frank Dolan observed that the rollout deadlines had been repeatedly revised noting that some people in Leitrim are being told that they won’t be connected until 2025-2027.
Cllr Des Guckian described the rollout as a “sham” adding “Leitrim will be the last to get fibre services and god knows what we will be paying for them.”
Cllr Brendan Barry called on the Council to stop the Government selling or privatising any more state-owned utilities or bodies.
“Recent revelations about €50 million being paid to investors in fees and interest from the National Broadband plan before a single house was connected and the fact that the National Broadband plan will be paying rent to Eir for use of infrastructure shows the consequences, extra cost, and delays in the provision of broadband as a result of the sale of Eircom,” he said.
“With dates of 2025 or 2026 or longer for Leitrim to be connected, I think the whole thing is a shambles,” observed the Sinn Féin councillor.
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