June 16, 2024
Business News

Net loss: Rural parts of Kilkenny face more broadband delays

RURAL parts of Kilkenny still without high speed internet access face another delay before the roll-out of the crisis-plagued National Broadband Plan.

The latest setback came as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar admitted a decision on the embattled project may not be made for another two months.

The broadband plan has been engulfed in controversy over the last year. The project is currently being reviewed by the Department of Communications.

Mr Varadkar admitted a decision on the future of the plan to extend broadband to every home across the country will not be made before the end of the year as had been expected.

“We’ll have to make a decision, of course, on broadband, which will be one of the big calls the Government has to make in the first two months of next year,” he said.

The broadband plan was thrown into chaos earlier this year when it emerged former Communications Minister Denis Naughten had held a number of private meetings with businessman David McCourt, who is leading the last remaining bidder for the State broadband contract.

Mr Naughten was forced to resign, He was replaced by former Education Minister Richard Bruton.

A government review of the controversy by independent auditor Peter Smyth found the meetings had not tainted the bidding, but said Mr Naughten took the right decision to resign.

Mr Varadkar said an external evaluation of the tendering process is under way to ensure the project will be “value for money”.

“I want to make sure that we do it at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer and, secondly, that we have confidence that the contractor can deliver and will actually be able to get the job done,” he said.

“It is something I’m committed to delivering. We’ve up to 75pc coverage across the country when it comes to high-speed broadband.

“The 25pc, it’s even more annoying and they feel even more left behind by the fact that people have access to broadband and they don’t. So I really want to get this done,” the Taoiseach added.

More than €22m of taxpayers’ money has been spent on the delayed broadband project to date.

It has estimated the overall cost of the completed project to taxpayers could be as much as €3bn.

 

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