Independent TD Michael Lowry has called on the Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Mr Denis Naughten, to urgently advance the Government’s National Broadband Plan for County Tipperary.
Currently there exists over 41,000 properties across Tipperary without broadband and of these over 8,000 are businesses of varying sizes, each attempting to compete in the wider market place. Larger towns like Clonmel, Thurles, Nenagh, Tipperary Town and Templemore are well served by commercial operators; however other smaller towns and villages right across Tipperary require immediate intervention by the government.
Deputy Lowry recently contacted Minister Naughten; highlighting that “a key element for rural development must be to invest in infrastructure in areas outside of our main towns and cities. The absence of high speed broadband is a significant issue in attracting foreign direct or other investment to rural areas, thus obstructing all future job creation in Tipperary”. Lowry further insisted that “the State now fast-track the necessary capital funding into the Broadband process to expedite the roll-out schedule and guarantee rural broadband to 100% of Tipperary homes and businesses.”
The Independent TD continued, “The Government must review its current time-line on Broadband issues and stop referring to it as anything other than what it actually is, a basic and essential utility. Lack of Broadband is threatening the very growth capacity of entire local economies, particularly in Co. Tipperary. Broadband has become a critical factor to 21st century business life, and rural businesses rightfully feel abandoned and unable to compete, while city based businesses continue to thrive.
This same digital divide now places rural Ireland at a massive disadvantage and is not just failing individuals and businesses in their ability to communicate, but is also affecting students in our educational system to adequately engage in their intellectual pursuits; much of which now depends on having access to basic Internet facilities.
Obviously the lack of basic Broadband accessibility is only one of the many areas that need to be scrutinised in an effort to stop the everyday curse of migration, emigration and unemployment. These factors are draining rural areas of their very livelihood. However, with rural Ireland lacking critical 21st century infrastructure in providing 21st century opportunities, rural dwellers will continue to flee in favour of greater prospects elsewhere.
Business, whatever its size is the very lifeblood of every economy and if entrepreneurship is to be encouraged to set up in rural Ireland, access to Broadband is now essential if we are to work, grow and fairly compete,” concluded Deputy Lowry.