An Eircom executive has said that people in rural Ireland who live more than 5km from a telephone exchange will never get broadband.

Eircom's Paul Bradley said that even when the local exchange is upgraded to handle broadband, a modem will not connect as the signal becomes so weak after 5km.

He told the Oireachtas Communications Committee it was a limitation of the technology.

Fine Gael's Noel Coonan accused Eircom of abandoning rural Ireland.

Mr Bradley said Eircom has now connected broadband to exchanges where there are between 300 and 400 customers.

Another Eircom executive, Pat Galvin, said that even when these exchanges are connected, some communities will have to rely on slower broadband because of cost.

Mr Galvin said that it would not be economic to extend fixed line broadband nationwide and that some parts of rural Ireland would have to reply on wireless broadband, which is slower.