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Broadband delay ‘will damage the local economy'

May 9th, 2016 4:50 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Justine Foster.

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BROADBAND customers in West Cork fear the latest delay in providing a rural service is going to have a detrimental effect on the local economy.

Last week, the Government confirmed that the rural broadband scheme won’t now be started until the end of 2017, and is unlikely to be completed until 2021.

The announcement won’t be news to readers of The Southern Star which, as far back as October 2014, reported a National Broadband Plan boss’s admission at a conference in Kilmacsimon that it was a ‘30 to 40-year’ project.

Patrick Neary, the technical director of the National Broadband Plan, told a West Cork Development Partnership seminar that some parts of West Cork could be waiting ‘for decades’ to get broadband.

Anne Condon, who lives in Snave near Bantry, told The Southern Star that three weeks ago her internet went down. ‘After 15 calls to provider ‘3’, I was told that they could no longer guarantee us broadband. It is my understanding that since the merger of 02 and ‘3’ there have been changes made to the masts, changes that the company has described as an upgrade, but which I would describe as a downgrade, because we are no longer within the scope required to pick up 3G broadband.’

In the Skibbereen area, a busy young mother has also found herself without broadband. Justine Foster, who works with the Uillinn arts centre in Skibbereen, said: ‘I’ve just been told by my service provider (‘3’) that they can no longer provide us with internet service at home. I cannot believe what has happened. We were late getting broadband in the first place, but we got it in 2011. But it was only after the merger with 02 and the ‘upgrade’ to 4G that we have lost our internet,’ she said.

‘As the mother of two young children (one a teenager),’ she added, ‘as well as having a husband who is self-employed, the lack of internet makes life extremely difficulty. Bye bye worldwide web.’

Skibbereen, at least, appears poised to benefit from the roll-out of the superfast fibre optic broadband from SIRO. This is a joint venture between the ESB and Vodafone which will see the roll-out of a 1,000 MBps option – ten times faster than speeds in Dublin.

The rolling-out of the 1,000 MBps broadband in Skibbereen town centre will not start until July, but will be completed within two months of the start date.

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