Eircom has confirmed, that people in rural Ireland who live more than 5km from a telephone exchange will not get broadband, while in Kerry a rule on erection of masts, is hindering the development of broadband.
Eircom spokesman Paul Bradley told the Oireachtas Communications Committee today, that even when the local exchange is upgraded to handle broadband, after 5km the signal becomes so weak that a modem will not connect. He said it was a limitation of the technology.
Bradley said Eircom has set up broadband in exchanges where there are between 300 and 400 customers. He described these areas as "very rural."
Another Eircom executive, Pat Galvin, said that even when these exchanges are connected, some communities will have to rely on slower broadband because of costs.
Galvin said it would not be economical to extend fixed line broadband nationwide and that some parts of rural Ireland would have to reply on wireless broadband, which is slower.
Galvin also told the committee that even though the company has a large amount of debt, Eircom has not been hindered in investing in better broadband. He said the company's debt was manageable.
He was responding to a question from Fine Gael's Simon Coveney who said there was a perception that Eircom's parent company was broke and that Eircom would not be able to pay for next generation broadband.
The Irish Examiner reports today, that a rule in County Kerry that prevents telecommunications masts being erected within 1km of houses, schools and residential buildings will delay the rollout of broadband in rural areas, according to County Manager Tom Curran.
The National Broadband Scheme aims to bring high-speed internet to all rural areas by September 2010, but the 1km rule is likely to impede the installation of masts in many parts of Kerry by the service 3, who won the government contract to provide broadband services. Planning permission will be needed to build new masts in Kerry, but it will be refused because of the rule, Curran said, and this "will mean Kerry will be one of the last counties to get broadband in rural areas, putting residences and businesses at a disadvantage," he said.
People want to have their cake and eat it!
Irish Rural Link (IRL) - the national organisation campaigning for sustainable rural communities – said today it regrets Eircom’s comments in the Oireachtas Communications Committee.
According to IRL Chief Executive Seamus Boland: “In its presentation to the Committee, Eircom boasted about achieving speeds of 25, 50 even 80 mb/s in some parts of Dublin. However much of rural Ireland is lucky to get speeds a fraction of that-if they can get any broadband service at all. The poor quality, or indeed absence, of broadband in rural areas is costing these locations investment and jobs. Eircom accept that using fibre is the best way of ensuring people and businesses can fully participate in the digital economy but today they made clear that they have no intention of upgrading the copper wire system across the country to fibre. They stated that this means that people who live more than 5km from a broadband enabled telephone exchange are unlikely to ever get high quality wired broadband. This compounds the fact that hundreds of exchanges across Ireland are not broadband enabled in the first place.”
“Meanwhile the technological limitations of mobile broadband mean serious doubts remain over the ability of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) to deliver the quality of service and speeds that have been promised and even if all goes smoothly with the NBS the broadband it delivers lags far behind the speeds Eircom is promising to deliver in cities.” Boland continued.
“Irish Rural Link is campaigning for the delivery of high quality, equitably priced broadband product for all rural areas and we are calling on Minister Ryan to ensure the NBS is properly upgraded and that Eircom are forced to future proof their network to ensure it provides the best possible broadband in rural areas. The options for rural broadband will be explored at our ‘Rural Broadband: Challenges & Opportunities’ seminar*, to be held in Moate on Friday 20th March.” he concluded.