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Deputy Michael McNamara

Rural Clare Will Remain Broadband “black hole” in 2021

THE government has been warned rural parts of Clare will remain a “broadband black hole” following the revelation that only four communities in Clare are scheduled for high speed broadband connection in 2021.

This news will be greeted with dismay by thousands of Clare residents, who are working from home in line with public health guidelines to minimise the spread of Covid-19, despite difficulties with poor connection and coverage issues.

Delays in the rollout of broadband will also hinder the government’s national plan to roll out 10,000 co-working and incubation spaces around the country over the next three years.

Deputy Michael McNamara has expressed his disappointment at the “frustratingly slow” roll out of a high speed and future proofed broadband network across Clare as part of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led intervention.

Deputy McNamara was speaking ahead of a briefing by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) to Clare County Council next Monday where the CEO Peter Hendrick will outline the NBI’s deployment plan for the county.

When the National Broadband Plan contract was signed in 2019, Deputy McNamara recalled people were led to believe that they would be presented with a comprehensive and detailed schedule for delivery in this county.

However, this plan has not yet materialised and he hopes Mr Hendrick will provide clarity on the matter when he appears before councillors at their statutory monthly meeting.

The East Clare deputy also believes Mr Hendrick should also address the scant level of information on the rollout being provided on the NBI website.

The Independent Deputy has been told by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) that properties in just four locations in South-East Clare are expected to benefit from new fibre connections in 2021.

“Surveys have been completed in the areas of Cratloe, Ballycannan, Ballyglass and Cloghrea and NBI has informed me that indicative dates for fibre connections for premises in these areas is mid-2021.

“Further surveys have recently commenced in the areas of Kilkishen, but NBI has said that deployment information is not yet available for this location. This low number of Clare communities scheduled for connection in 2021 is disappointing.”

“In a year that saw remote working becoming the norm across Clare, the long-standing issues associated with an inadequate broadband infrastructure has been keenly felt by many thousands of people,” stated Deputy McNamara.

“Away from the large urban areas, Clare remains a broadband black hole. Internet access is either unaffordable for most households or it is simply unavailable. Businesses in rural areas cannot develop e-commerce while farmers are disadvantaged by poor broadband,” he warned.

As far back as 2007, he recalled all the main political parties pledging the deliver broadband to all homes within a few years.

However, Ireland is only in 36th place globally in the rankings of broadband speeds and many Clare homes remain off the grid.

Dan Danaher

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