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180,000 homes, farms, and businesses in rural Ireland ready to access broadband – Ahearn

5th September 2023 - Senator Garret Ahearn

With the 50,000th connection to the National Broadband Plan set to happen today, a Fine Gael Senator has outlined that an additional 180,000 homes, farms, and businesses across rural Ireland can also connect to the service in just 10 days if they wish.

“Today is a milestone in the NBP’s rollout, which is having a transformative impact on rural Ireland, opening up opportunities in enterprise, health and smart farming,” said Senator Garret Ahearn.

“By prioritising rural broadband and guaranteeing high speed broadband for every home, business, and farm in the country, we are ensuring no one is left behind.

“Fine Gael faced down tough opposition from all sides to this plan and were accused of political opportunism. Indeed, Minister Eamon Ryan said that the NBP process gave rural homes an unfair advantage.

“Since then, the advantages to rural Ireland have been many, and not unfair. In my own constituency in Tipperary, the benefits have been immense. A growing number of businesses and industries, particularly digitally intensive enterprises, needed Gigabit connectivity to create new applications and business models to produce, distribute and sell their goods and services more competitively. Farmers have benefitted through smart farming which allows increased production quality, remote monitoring of livestock, lower operational costs, reduced impact on the environment, better security technology and easier interaction with State bodies online.

“At a more local level, the availability of high-speed broadband services has allowed rural schools to benefit through facilitating innovative educational tools, granting access to specialist teaching resources and enabling equal engagement by distance learning.

“But crucially, broadband has enabled remote working, which was a lifeline to so many workers and employers alike during the Covid pandemic. Since then, the world of work has evolved, and the provision of high-speed broadband now allows people to have more flexible working arrangements and to reduce their carbon footprint and urban sprawl by cutting down on commutes to large cities.

“Sinn Féin was consistently critical of the plan, describing it as ‘chaotic and farcical’ and voting against it. The rural Independents were also against it. If this had succeeded, the nationwide rollout of broadband would still be a pipe dream. I’m pleased that they did not succeed– and I imagine 50,000 householders, businesses and farmers today are too”.

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