Government’s rural broadband plan is costly and short-sighted. The Sinn Féin plan provided the same vital services to rural communities at a fraction of the cost. Giving over control of a service as vital as broadband is wrong, just as it was when Eircom was privatised.
There is no doubt that broadband is a necessity for rural communities. If the proposal that was called for by Sinn Fein, and others, for the ESB to act as the builder and supplier of the network; the same gains from jobs attracted to rural areas and from increased capacity for remote working would have been more streamlined and quicker.
There were a number of options on the table, but the Cabinet has signed off on a compromised plan that has received near-universal criticism.
Just weeks ago, the Dáil voted to keep the network in public ownership, while the broadband industry itself criticized the government plan, alongside a number of Oireachtas committees and senior civil servants. Time and time again, Sinn Féin and the Communications Committee have called for full public ownership of the finished network, a plan which would save the Irish people billions
Instead, Fine Gael’s continued arrogance has led Minister Bruton to reject these calls, and calls for the ESB to act as the builder and supplier of the network itself, for a plan in which the network can be sold off after nine years.
Not only will the structural failures of the build and operate model be costly, but the government has again opted to fund a broadband system that we won’t even own at the end.
This government has made it clear that they care more about their privatization agenda than the good of the people, as has been true for the entirety of the past 8 years.