Thomas Pringle TD

“Government decision to privatise the rural broadband network will prove to be a mistake”

1st Stage Water in public ownership Bill 2016


Independent Deputy Thomas Pringle says that the government decision taken today to privatise the rural broadband network will prove to be a costly mistake. Have we not learned from the disastrous privatisation of Eircom that has led to the situation today that we do not have a fibre optic broadband network in the country?

The National Broadband Scheme is the second attempt to get broadband provision in rural areas sorted out and the decision to privatise the network is a potential disaster for rural areas.
Telecommunications infrastructure is vital for the future development of rural areas that will allow people to create businesses and sustain working in rural locations and it should not be handed over to the private sector. The state needs to maintain the network in public ownership so that it benefits all the people into the future and it is in our national interests that it is kept in public control.

There is an opportunity to make sure that the network development is future proofed and the over 900,000 households that will depend on it are not left to the whim of private operators for a resilient network. In Donegal 52% of households depend on the National Broadband Plan to get an adequate broadband service that needs to be able to meet future demand as well. The only way to achieve this is by using the publicly owned ESB network to provide a fibre wrapped connection to every household in the country. This would allow for future developments and increases in broadband speeds to be rolled out easily and at the discretion of the state rather than a private company.

This government has shown itself to be ‘penny wise and pound foolish’ with this decision taking a short term saving for long term losses.

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