Latest Fine Gael Broadband Manifesto: Blinkered, backwards, boring

Well I guess they do need to keep going when it comes to being clueless.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, launching a new FG policy on broadband said the plan will tackle high prices, poor customer services and improve broadband availability and take-up levels that currently place us at the bottom of the international rankings.

No it won’t. The document doesn’t explain how that will happen at all.

So Simon Coveney now has brought out another FG manifesto. That Durkan is gone is a good thing, that Coveney is back, not so much. This new manifesto is all about fibre and all about ducting. Ducting is a big issue but they seem to forget that the issue of carrier neutral ducting has been smothered by the Department of Environment for about a decade now. Their Environmental person should be in on this too. Here’s the top 10 from FG:

  • 1. Mandate the Department of Communications to undertake a comprehensive audit of all ducting under both public and private ownership throughout the country. Based on this audit, a detailed plan of where ducting, especially between the exchange and the cabinet but also at backhaul level, is most needed.
  • Can they just ask eircom and others?

  • 2. Enter negotiations with all private owners of ducting for the purposes of securing open access to infrastructure, in an effort to try to create a web of open-access ducting throughout the country.
  • Haha. Hah. That’s like entering negotiations with M50 Toll Bridge owners. Who’ll negotiate?

  • 3. Tender for private sector interest in managing all State-owned ducting and coordinate with the regulator on the opening of access to privately-owned ducting. The contract will also provide for the management of roll-out of new ducting where appropriate. Funding for this will be provided from the ICT budget within the NDP.
  • The regulator. Oh god. You live and die in telecoms by the regulator. Lots have died.

  • 4. The State should support high-speed wireless connectivity to areas too remote to justify ducting and fibre connections.
  • ComReg are in charge of spectrum. Look how they screwed that up. You want to subsidise ComReg mistakes? Look who got the only National Wireless Broadband licence and what they did with it.

  • 5. Revise the terms of the contracts for provision of broadband to extremely remote areas under the National Broadband Scheme, to require that this connectivity be of a high-bandwidth.
  • Morons. How about scrap the most screwed up scheme ever. Did you read the Sunday Times this weekend, did you look at the NBS map which is a pack of lies about coverage? How about creating an honest map.

  • 6. Pass legislation to require ducting to be installed to the home in all new housing and apartment developments under new building standards regulations.
  • That’s been in Dept of Environment hell for years. Good luck with that. It is needed though.

  • 7. Pass legislation to require ducting to be laid as part of all new road developments and maintenance.
  • See above.

  • 8. Ensure that all infrastructure relating to roll-out of next generation access – at all parts of the network – be subject to fast-track planning rules
  • Not going to happen. Join the slow queue of things that need to be fast-tracked. It’s not about time it’s about the insane costs and the differents rules and costs in each locality.

  • 9. Invite tenders for provision of wholesale high-bandwidth access to state bodies throughout the country, such as schools, third-level institutions, hospitals and departmental buildings.
  • 10. The connection of Next Generation Access to all schools and educational in particular institutions needs immediate priority in government planning.

Think of the children! Why not connect every school to the MANs outside their doors and stop providing satellite to them?

It does seem FG forgot to read that last ComReg report that said Dublin and therefore Ireland is screwed but hell, bandy about terms like NGN and Fibre and you’ll sound smart.

Fine Gael show how clueless they are by saying the National Broadband Scheme will get Ireland 100% broadband. It will not. Had they looked at the scheme even quickly they could have seen this. The NBS will give maybe 10% of the country broadband, that still leaves 10-15% of people that were told go screw themselves.

More bits:

The Government’s National Broadband Scheme, which will start to come on stream in mid-2008, aims to provide basic broadband access for the 10-15% of the population living in remote areas. As a result, first-generation broadband availability should be at 100% within a few years at most.

Fine Gael needs to realise that people in the middleclass neighbourhoods that they prowl might be getting broadband, but a hell of a lot of people in poorer and more remote areas still won’t get ANY broadband. Why not consider them?

Even worse, users enjoy an average speed of only 3.011Mbps, third lowest of 35 OECD countries, with only Mexico and Turkey worse than us.


Fine Gael proposes prioritising the achievement of a “fibre to the cabinet” (FTTC) or “fibre to the kerb” (FTTK) network in as much of the country as possible as soon as possible. The connection from the kerb to the home will still be copper wire, but the fact that the entire network from the kerb back will be fibre will mean that speeds of up to 25Mbps can be achieved. Putting in place such a network will achieve the desired effect of a massive step-up in Ireland’s broadband speeds in a realistic time-frame and without imposing an unacceptable burden on the public purse.

Read the ComReg report.

33 Responses to “Latest Fine Gael Broadband Manifesto: Blinkered, backwards, boring”

  1. Keith says:

    So, what is the answer?

    I’ve heard people suggest changing the universal service provision to be a data-based one rather than voice-based, but I don’t see eircon cooperating with that…

  2. Cormac says:

    I wrote this for FG.

    Like everything else I write it sounds good and essentially has no substance or intellectual rigour.

    Nor is it ever intended to be enforced !

  3. I’d agree with most of the analysis but I think of ‘blinkered, backwards, boring’ it’s ‘blinkered’ that really is the most apt.

    One day I’ll be able to check email and download podcasts at the same time …

  4. Evert Bopp says:


    I see no suggestions anywhere in your comments on how to improve the broadband “situation”. What I do see is a lot of critisism of suggestions based on past mistakes made under the “guidance” of a different political party. I’m not saying that FG have the solution figured out but constant critisism doesn’t solve any problems either…

  5. Damien says:

    Evert, I can recommend a reading teacher for you if you want.

  6. Cormac says:

    constant criticism is the only thing that penetrates the dense undergrowth surrounding our policy makers and preventing the cold light of reality from illuminating them in any way …viz the valuable comments from eBay Ireland for example .

    All FF and Ryan come up with is boilerplate prattle about the market , the market has failed utterly


    “Senator Shane Ross: I move:

    That Seanad Éireann deplores the failure of the Government to ensure broadband access in every home and business in Ireland.

    I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Tony Killeen, for being here. This is very serious issue and I raise it for the second time in 13 months, which most unusual. Broadband is one of the ignored issues of the Oireachtas. I am absolutely staggered by the lack of interest, alarm and drive of Members of the Oireachtas when confronting this problem. There is no sense of urgency about it among them and it is no coincidence that this House is not particularly full. Broadband may not be a sexy subject but it is a vital one. The attitude of successive parliamentarians is that broadband is, for some extraordinary reason, an optional extra. They regard it as something we may or may not need. This is far from the case.

    Broadband is an absolutely essential part of the infrastructure of a modern state. I contend — I do not believe the Minister will disagree — broadband is something we simply cannot do without. We should be able to take it for granted by now rather than see it as an area in which we regard ourselves as perhaps a little bit behind as a nation.”

    To which this person , FF , replies with unctous boilerplate cack

    “Collapse Senator Jim Walsh: Information Zoom I move amendment No. 1:

    To delete all words after “Seanad Éireann” and substitute the following:

    recognising that—

    —telecommunications services, including broadband, in Ireland are provided by the electronic communications sector operating in a fully liberalised market;

    —the market is regulated where appropriate by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), the statutory body responsible for the regulation of the sector;

    —the role of the Government is to formulate regulatory and infrastructure policies to facilitate the provision of high quality telecommunications services by competing private-sector service providers;

    —after a late start Ireland’s rate of broadband take-up continues to improve;


    —the Government on its positive interventions such as supporting the construction of Metropolitan Area Networks in regional cities and towns and providing capital grants under the County and Group Broadband Scheme;

    —broadband service providers for providing customers with a wide range of affordable broadband products; and

    —the Government for its determination, under the National Broadband Scheme, to ensure the delivery of broadband services to those areas in Ireland where it is currently uneconomic for the telecommunications sector to provide broadband connectivity.

    Expand Senator Joe O’Toole: Information Zoom Senator Walsh is embarrassed by the amendment. He should tell the truth.”

  7. Evert Bopp says:

    So getting rid of Comreg, firing the collective government and scrapping the NBS will solve the problem?
    Don’t get me wrong; I like your this “mad pittbull in the yard” thing that you do as it keeps the respective government bodies on their toes but I still think that you should occasionally make constructive suggestions.
    That way us stooopid people might stop banging our heads against the wall..

  8. FPL says:

    One of the major travesties to come will be just how we built 1/4 million houses in the last decade without mandating carrier neutral ducting. Cue expensive contracts to lay 1000s of miles of the stuff in the future.

  9. Damien says:

    Evert, I have linked in the comments to the solution and I have mentioned what the solution is previously in blog posts. Specsavers for glasses or an adult literacy programme.

  10. colm says:

    The problem with FG is they are too knee jerk and have grown soft with the easy questioning on their pet radio stations. I honestly think they have a committee who sit down in the morning listen to Gerry Ryan to see what the issue of the day is and then write a quick proposal in 60 minutes in time to be rolled out on their daily slot on Newstalk’s Lunch time show. Then they listen to the comments and texts coming in and redraft the announcement in time for their new daily slot on The Last Word.

    If it wasn’t for Denis O’Brien none of these insane press releases would see the light of day.

  11. Alan says:

    Christ almighty, was going to ask something but couldn’t be arsed now in case my head is bitten off.

  12. Damien says:

    Work away Alan but if you ignore what I say to push your own agenda everytime the topic comes up, I’ll give you the same time as I give others who waste my time. 🙂

  13. Cormac says:

    Shane Ross has a perfectly well formed Broadband Bill coming into the Seanad.

    This scam by FG is designed to interfere with the Great Mans Coat Tails .

    An unequivocal show of support for Shane is whats needed, not this solo run by Coveney …who does not actually understand its contents I will wager 🙁

    I said, don’t do it Simon !!!!!

  14. Ron says:


    I’ve got to say, I’m surprised to see such a blog from you on this. I politely suggest that you have missed the point here in many cases. From having read the paper a few times now, I see it as a very positive thing. No, it’s not trying to be all things to all people, or tackle the technical challenges, which he does note.

    However, what this report *is* trying to do is put pressure on our Government to try and get some positive motion on bringing us up to international standards and cater for the future. Something more concrete than the existing plans in place by the Minister. As someone yourself who has spent a lot of time trying to achieve the exact same thing, I would have thought you’d support any such efforts on the sitting Government, even with *constructive* criticism.

    – You mention that the document doesn’t explain how they intend to achieve the goals set out at the start. Well, I submit to you that it does, although maybe not verbatim the way you would approach it.

    – “…but they seem to forget that the issue of carrier neutral ducting has been smothered by the Department of Environment for about a decade now.” What makes you think that they forget this? This document is about, in part, achieving that. Because it’s been an issue for a decade, should they just not bother? Give up? Go home? Is it not the obligation of an opposition to work to achieve such things and try to overcome such longstanding obstacles? You are right that the Environment spokesperson needs to be involved in this too. I’d be surprised if they were not consulted during the drafting of this report.

    – Mandating the Department of Communications to undertake the audit is a sane approach. Firstly because they are the appropriate Government body with oversight for this segment. Secondly, the information would then be “in the right place” and in an official form, as opposed to held by 1 or other political party.

    – With regards to negotiating open access for ducting. This is something which, ultimately, can be legislated for in the long run, should it not get sorted out in easier terms. However, for the right fee (flat across the industry based on X factors), I would expect it to be easier than your laughs indicate you would.

    – Like it or not, the Regulator is the official path to achieve such objectives. So while you might dismiss, from what I can see, pretty much every established body in the field, they are (maybe unfortunately) the way to get this done. So, rather than dismiss them all out of hand, would it not be an idea to help sort these things? I doubt FG / Coveney would refuse any constructive help on this – we all want the same thing surely? ComReg and everyone else have done things in the past which are not to be boasted about, true. The Government have plan in this area which, in this area, are nothing more than lip service. However this report by the Opposition is trying to *change* the Government policies, get *good* things happening out of ComReg. You can’t expect them to come out, like you have in your responses and, just bash the entire establishment. For while it might be dramatic and catchy in a blog, it is not going to achieve anything. For all their faults and failings, FG *are* trying to achieve something here. As consumers and interested / knowledgeable parties, I think we should be trying to help them do this. It’s not about any particular leader or political group, it’s about positive motion towards a well connected Ireland.

    – Is amending the terms of the NBS really moronic? Without question the NBS is, well, nothing close to what it should be. But when there are Government coffers put aside for it and an existing plan; it’s a much more realistic proposal to amend that to make some GOOD come out of it. Steer it in the right direction. FG / Coveney are not singing the praises of the NBS, but trying to use it (and the money assigned to it) as a way to change to the right direction.

    – The Fast Track planning process may indeed still be more of a fast walk than a run. But it’s a damn sight better than traditional channels. Step 1 is to at least get acceptance for this. The sorting of the Fast Track process and associated slowness is another task for another group. For the purposes of this strategy, like anything, you need to be in to win! Criticism of the Fast Track process is no reason to not want this as part of it. It’s a step in the right direction and looking to the future could stand to it.

    – Putting all schools on the MANs would be lovely. If all schools were in areas where it would ever be possible. Of course, you need to immediately discount the 6 or so existing MANs which don’t actually have any backhaul. Something which would be addressed by the proposals in this document. In the mean time, putting a focus on sorting there access is hardly something to give out about.

    – From the document… “The Government’s National Broadband Scheme, which will start to come on stream in mid-2008, aims to provide basic broadband access for the 10-15% of the population living in remote areas.” Over time, based on urban *availability* this can add up.

    – “Fine Gael needs to realise that people in the middleclass neighbourhoods that they prowl might be getting broadband, but a hell of a lot of people in poorer and more remote areas still won’t get ANY broadband. Why not consider them?” I don’t see this as a topical response to a statement about availability, where the context is having the service available to the public to subscribe to. You have taken this out of context. To begin with, having more and, accessible, ducting will lead to more innovation and competition in the market. Better regional access. Ultimately low prices for the consumer and more widespread access in the regions. For areas that *do* have backhaul to Dublin, regional providers pay something in the region of €7.50 per meg for that backhaul; about 7 times what it costs to get out of the country, i.e. international bandwidth. Strong policy and legislation, regarding this such as open access ducting (and SOLID commitments to proper broadband wireless bandwidth in the regions [something you seem to have missed in the document]) will ultimately benefit those you reference. The report does indeed consider them, though you seem to have missed that bit.

    – With Ireland being 3rd last on the OECD report, are you saying that the OECD is “wrong” or their data, or the FG reference to it? It’s not clear from your comment 😉

    – I think you’ll find that ComReg’s reports and such have all been consulted. The document in question is setting a broad proposal for the future. Something to aim for. More solid targets than currently exist. If there’s something in the ComReg report that says they / we shouldn’t – quote it!

    Look, the point here is that this report is an Opposition party trying to do something constructive, within the reality of our (albeit flawed in parts) Irish system. A reasonable, potentially achievable, way to work toward the future. Something which we’ve been lacking and had no hint of from the party in power. It’s a hell of a lot more constructive an realistic than the “level the whole bloody country and it’s establishments, then start again” approach.

    I would dearly love to see the things in this document happen. I can’t imagine anyone would *not* like this (except maybe Eircom). So much so that rather than be cynical and rubbish the whole thing, I think we should be trying to support, steer, guide, advise and ultimately work with any established body trying to achieve something like this. There’s a bigger picture here which you won’t get reading line by line and commenting as you read. Any proposal which puts pressure etc on the sitting Government and associated bodies to better our access, be it urban or rural, is a good thing.

    – R

  15. Damien says:

    Still writing policy documents for Coveney then Ronan?

  16. Cormac says:

    Who is this Ronan person ???? Off with his head !

    I write all the policy document, I hand them over to that twentymajor fella who liberally annotates them …mainly with words beginning with ‘c’ .

    I then hand them into the opposition front bench for Due Consideration. They often put a comma or seimcolon ie a , or a ; here or there, mainly immediately before or immediately after a ‘c’ word.

    Then their PR Bunnies get the finished product. They tend to remove the ‘c’ words 🙁 and if not too busy they move the , and the ; hither and thither to make it read more coherently , to an FG PR Bunny that is.

    Sometimes they leave an orphaned ; in the document , look for them and try to figure out where that ‘c’ word might have been, left or right..

    Nothing is ever changed from what I write bar ‘c’ words and , and ; infusions and exclusions .

    The last FG frontbench spekesperson who dared adlib on “ducts” in the Dáil and who did not read one of my documents before he lepped up on his hind legs was complaining that the Ranger Wing was letting “Ducts” fly into the country unhindered, the kind of “Ducts” that could carry H5N1 Variant Influenza.

    Otherwise FG has never brought the subject of “Ducts” up with Environment or Communications because its self evidently an Agricultural matter . Never, not once ever.

    I gave yer man a good kick up the hole for not sticking to the script when I got hold of him . He is now shadowing slurry issues in the Midlands.

  17. Ron says:

    LOL. Chance ‘d be a fine thing Damien 😉

    I don’t care what party or person is working for a better connected future; if they put pressure on the Government and, maybe, can even get some things changed, I’ll support /that/ (which doesn’t mean supporting everything they say or do).

    – R

  18. Simon Coveney says:


    Thanks for time you took to look at in my document, although I was disappointed you took such a negative view.

    I don’t pretend to be a technical expert in the field. However I think that the document does represent what is currently most needed from policymakers – an ambitious but achievable programme of action in the field which would make substantial progress over a short period of time.

    The document is the result of several months’ work and a large amount of detailed consultation with all interested parties. It is a genuine effort to make progress on the broadband issue, and I am sorry that you don’t see it that way.

    I would be very interested in discussing your concerns in detail, either on the phone or in person. If this is something that would interest you, maybe you could email me at, or phone me at 01-6183753 or 021-4313100.

  19. Damien says:

    I’ve been emailing you for years now Simon, glad I got a reply to this now.

  20. John says:

    It’s not often I get to use this one but …



  21. Cormac says:

    Back to the Future 🙂

  22. Cormac says:


    Please link me to every FG policy initiative / speech on this subject since March 2002 …..most especially by your environment spokerpersons .

    Thanks .

    [quote] Prelaying and sharing of ducting will be encouraged as far as possible. In this regard, the provisions in the Communications (Regulation) Bill to encourage sharing of ducting are an important step forward. In addition, the Department of Environment and Local
    Government are considering the question of providing that the terms of future planning permissions in appropriate circumstances should make it obligatory for the developer to lay ducting (conforming to standard specification developed by the Department of Public Enterprise) and transfer it to the local authority when building new urban roads, housing
    developments and industrial estates.[/quote]

  23. Cormac says:

    and oh dearie me, who googlebombed this ???

    A search on google for Fine Gael Broadband returns

  24. […] It seems when you Google for “Fine Gael Broadband”, you get this blog. No wonder FG TD and spokesperson on Communications Simon Coveney left a comment. […]

  25. Cormac says:

    The blueshirts googlebombed back . expect no further interaction!

  26. dax says:


    Great topic … And superbly “apt”.

    The ducting to new developments and road infrastructure exists and is of excellent quality , but when you actually contact an S.P to connect they charge ridiculous rates before they can say if they can provide poor qos of said affordable fast 1st world broadband on their terms.

    I know this from practice. 2″ ducting to the door 4″ from path 6″ on roadways. Your local county council will refrain for as long as possible from taking over these for unknown reasons to me (some one care to enlighten me )?

    Why do all newly layed p+t junction boxes bare the Eircom logo ( are they still state owned … :/ ) ?

    IMHO it’s not a fair market with the privately owned ducting it should be compulsory owned by a separate state body and definitely not local government ( What is it most of them actually do , I would bet there not in half the time, those that are in are afraid to make decisions afaik) no ?

  27. Cormac says:

    the ducts in many complexes are owned by the management company / builder .

    eircom does not have any legal exclusivity on ducts with eirocm hatches …nor does ntl

    I have ( in the past) run fibre through eircom hatched ducts because they are there , I had the permission of the owner of the business park, eircom grunted and said OK .

  28. barry says:

    It has been referred to already …. but…

    “Think of the children! Why not connect every school to the MANs outside their doors and stop providing satellite to them?”

    B*****x, there are a load of places where there is no infrastructure at all, never mind MANs. FG may be off the wall, but at least they are willing to open the discussion on bb.
    Anyway, recent comments, which I don’t think you mentioned but other blogs did, indicate that the Dept of Ed hasn’t funded the proper equipment to actually use the access there is…. another story.

  29. barry says:

    On re-reading the comments on this entry, especially the comments on the comments, I have a feeling that John W****s may find some ammunition for his opinions on blogs…..

    Christ, we all want better access, we all know the decision making up to now has been crap, we all know that vested interests have f****d up the situation. Now, can we not all get our collective minds and energies into gear and support a DEBATE on the subject based on intelligent assessment of what a) has to happen b) needs to happen and c) requires political movement to happen. In the comments here there is the basis for a document which should and could be EXPLAINED, for that is what is needed, to those who need to undertand the issues. Shane Ross has started the ball rolling, Coveney admits ignorance, they both need support, as well as those in Communications, ComReg, and the much maligned consultants who ‘advise’ on policy. We can put forward the options and the consequences, they won’t take any notice of carping.

  30. Cormac says:

    Is there any more comment or input from Coveney or would that be too Irish ???

  31. Cormac, you’re not going to see any more from him now that his propaganda piece has been blown apart. I think we were all supposed to fawn over FG coming out with ‘NGN’, ‘fibre optic’ and such. Never mind that it was just clueless recycling of press releases already out there. Never mind that a secondary school student would have put together the same document just by reading the papers and popular blogs and sites here (no slight on students, putting this document together requires a certain amount of diligence in terms of gathering material but that’s it). The simple fact is that FG like FF are hopelessly inept and simply incapable of delivering concrete strategy. None of the broadband proposals offer any deliverables. The money spent on consultants by previous governments, FG and now the clueless Ryan is utterly wasted. Why ignore proposals that have already been put forward by people who are in the very business? Why ignore the likes of Senator Shane Ross who has put together measurable objectives and deliverables to the people?

  32. Jim Allen says:

    Damien in Bullet point form can you suggest five things that would in the real world help move this debate along.