Feighan welcomes plan for high-speed internet access

An ambitious plan by Fine Gael to improve the availability of high-speed internet access was welcomed recently by Deputy Frank Feighan. Deputy Feighan said that the plan will tackle high prices, poor customer service and improve broadband availability and take-up levels that currently place us at the bottom of the international rankings. Economic growth Deputy Feighan said, ‘Information and knowledge are now at the centre of economic growth in developed economies. The ability to share and move ideas globally, rapidly and cost effectively is fundamental to competing and winning in the ‘knowledge economy’. To succeed in such an environment, we need a first class telecommunications infrastructure. ‘This ambitious plan is to encourage the Government to drive the delivery of next generation broadband across the country and in so doing improve Ireland’s competitiveness. The ten-point plan gives practical suggestions on how the Government can achieve the roll out of next generation broadband communication infrastructure, delivering high speeds within as short a timeframe as possible. ‘High-speed broadband is no longer a luxury – it is now a necessity for doing business, for modern education in school and as a telecommunications link at home. Government broadband policy has failed to deliver in terms of penetration and in particular in terms of bandwidth and download speed. Despite a steady increase in the number of people signing up to broadband in the last 12 months, Ireland is still a long way behind our competitors in terms of connectivity. In fact, Ireland is 33rd out of 35 OECD countries for average internet speeds, ahead of only Mexico and Turkey. ‘According to the latest OECD figures, 15.4 percent of the Irish population subscribes to broadband, with speeds of little over 3 Mb per second, while the OECD average is 13.7 Mb per second. ‘For any country competing in the global economy, next generation broadband access is essential, but for Ireland, shortcomings in this area are a serious impediment to our plans to create an economy based on technology, innovation, research and development.’