Now Brexit fears are delaying roll-out of broadband to rural parts of Kilkenny
GROWING fears and uncertainty over the fallout of Brexit is causing new delays to the roll out of vital broadband services to rural parts of Kilkenny.
The Government has said it will not proceed with the plan to connect half a million rural homes and businesses across Kilkenny and the rest of the country to high-speed fibre broadband until after the costs of Brexit become clear.
And there are now fears the plan could be scrapped altogether because the bill for the programme has soared.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this week confirmed that the cost of the National Broadband Plan – a Government scheme to connect parts of rural Ireland where commercial broadband providers have declined to service – had risen to “many multiples of the original estimate”.
The plan was originally estimated to cost €500 million. However, costs are believed to have escalated sharply in recent years, with reports suggesting the cost of the project could rise to a whopping €3 billion.
In the Dáil, Mr Varadkar said: “As the project will be much more expensive than anticipated, we must consider how the public finances can bear that. Obviously, the events of the next couple of weeks will tell a story in regard as to where we will stand in terms of the public finances.”
He said he hoped to be in a position to make a decision on the broadband plan before Easter, which falls in late April this year.
However, The Irish Times has reported that there is “considerable discussion within Government about the wisdom of proceeding with the process” because of the escalating costs – concerns that have been heightened in the wake of the controversy over the National Children’s Hospital cost overrun.