Today I called for faster broadband to be introduced to Ireland as a matter of urgency.
Ireland has one of the highest percentages of rural dwellers in Europe and one of the biggest challenges facing rural Ireland is to bridge the digital divide with urban areas.
This Government is committed to ensuring that 85% of premises in Ireland will have access to high speed broadband within two years, with 100% access as soon as possible up to at most 5 years.
Unfortunately at the moment Ireland ranks only 42nd in the world in the distribution of fast broadband. Commercial companies advertise broadband speeds of 240Mbps in cities and towns, while rural areas have to survive on speeds of 1-2Mbps, or indeed no broadband at all.
The Government’s National Broadband Plan states that by 2020 all premises will have access to broadband of at least 30Mpbs, the minimum that the European Commission has set for a viable service. I believe this is not enough.
Rural SME’s often have less footfall and are even more dependent on faster broadband. The World Bank has found that a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration increases economic growth by 1.3 per cent over the long term. I believe we should be striving for a national broadband speed of 100mb by 2020, as the Swedish Government are planning.