The Mobile Phone & Broadband Taskforce, established to address key bottlenecks in the delivery of vital broadband infrastructure across the country, has failed to meet since the contract with National Broadband Ireland (NBI) was signed in November 2019. This, in part, has contributed to the significant delays in the project delivery, claims Denis Naughten TD.
“Based on current estimates from NBI, about 50% of the homes that were to have access to fibre broadband this year will be able to avail of the service,” said Denis Naughten. “Last week Mr Peter Hendrick of NBI told a Dáil Committee that the company expects to pass just 60,000 premises by the end of this year, down from the original target of 115,000.
“While Covid-19 is the standard excuse of all delays across projects at present the fact is this significant slippage is at least in part due to the chequered engagement by broadband contractors with public bodies, including some local authorities.”
Denis Naughten pointed out: “The last Government established the Mobile Phone & Broadband Task Force to specifically address these types of bottlenecks. As a member of Cabinet, I chaired the taskforce to ensure the focus across both the public and private sector was to make things happen on the ground that would make a real difference.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that this Taskforce has not held any meeting since the signing of the National Broadband Plan contract and it is now clear that a multi-agency approach led from the Cabinet table is needed to get back on track and to fast track the delivery of the most important infrastructure project of this generation.”
As a result of today’s call by the National Competitiveness & Productivity Council for an increased pace to the delivery of the National Broadband Plan to help improve the competitiveness of Irish business, Denis Naughten has sought the re-establishment of the Mobile Phone & Broadband Taskforce as a matter of urgency.
This Taskforce has a proven track record with Minister Ossian Smyth telling the Dáil earlier this year that “one of the most positive aspects to emerge from the work of the Taskforce is the extent to which practical cooperation between State agencies and Industry has developed. This has been fundamental to achieving tangible results which have delivered ‘on the ground’ improvements in services for citizens and business. The value captured through these collaborative relationships and structures will be carried forward and further strengthened under the future Work Programme of the Taskforce which my Department is finalising in consultation with the Department of Rural and Community Development”.
“The current Programme for Government, published after Covid-19 hit, promised to fast track the delivery of high speed broadband to every home in Ireland but all we have seen since then is hand-wringing and little in the way of action,” said Denis Naughten. “In fact the most significant step taken by this Government on broadband is to move responsibility for its delivery from the Cabinet table (Minister Ryan) to Minister of State, Ossian Smyth, which sends out the wrong message across the public sector,” concluded Denis Naughten.
Denis Naughten highlights Broadband bottlenecks in Dáil: https://youtu.be/7frBqk—1g
National Competitiveness & Productivity Council press release:
Dáil reply from Minister Smyth: https://www.kildarestreet.com/wrans/?id=2021-07-06a.226&s=Ossian+Smyth+mobile+phone+and+broadband+taskforce#g228.r