Kerry Senator Mark Daly is calling on the Government to stop ignoring rural Ireland and to invest in proper broadband infrastructure. Communities across Kerry have been demanding an improved service for several years, but the calls have been falling on deaf ears.
“Constituents have been contacting me to express their frustration with the poor broadband service right across the county. Broadband is no longer a luxury item, it has become essential in this ever increasing tech-centred world. Smartphone and tablet sales have soared over the past few years and broadband services need to be improved in order to serve demand.
“The situation has become so serious that Kerry County Council has been forced to undertake a survey of local service providers to assess the extent of the problem. While I welcome this move, the real problem lies with Government and its reluctance to roll out a quality service to rural Ireland. The people of Kerry are being treated like second class citizens; while residents in large towns and cities enjoy a fully functioning broadband service, we are left languishing with very poor broadband provision. Even in areas where there is a service, speeds are often sub-standard. This is a particular problem in tourist hotspots when high volumes of traffic at certain times of the year can compound the issue.
“This problem is creating a digital divide between rural and urban communities, and both business and residential customers in Kerry are suffering. Many families need a reliable service to keep in touch with relatives who live away from home, while businesses need the connectivity in order to cater to the online market and remain viable. Around 40% of broadband customers reported problems with slow speeds and downloading capacity; however, I believe that figure is much higher in the Kerry region.
“The Government’s Rural Broadband scheme is falling far short of the mark. So far only 25% of targeted homes are connected to a service. I’m calling on Pat Rabbitte to make a proper investment in broadband in rural Ireland. When Fianna Fáil was in Government it laid the foundations of the current broadband network, with a €450 million investment between 1999-2011. This Government needs to build on that investment and ensure greater broadband equality for rural residents and businesses”.