Unbelievable. After the scandal over the National Children’s Hospital, Varadkar has just announced that installing broadband in rural areas ‘will be much more expensive than anticipated’.The overall cost is scheduled to escalate from 500 million euro to 3 billion euro.
This scandal is a direct result of privatisation. Up to 1999 the telephone network was run by a state company, Telecom Eireann. It was privatised by Fianna Fail and ever since then different companies have ripped off its assets.
Eir was then allocated to cherry pick the easiest homes to install broadband and was rewarded handsomely.
Then in a series of manoeuvres, only one private bidder, Enet, was left to negotiate a contract for the last half a million homes. It was actually backed by money from the state’s own Irish Infrastructure Fund which was set to take control of the company.
But suddenly Enet was downgraded to becoming only a supplier to a new consortium, Granahan McCourt. A Denis O Brien controlled company was then discovered to be part of the new consortium.
They have set about trying to squeeze even more money from the taxpayers for the contract.
It is time to take telecommunications back into public ownership – and provide a decent service at a fraction of the cost.