Broadband is ‘already a reality' in rural Ireland

August 16th, 2017 7:10 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Brendan and Jane Hurley of Digital Forge on Mount Gabriel. They have been in operation since 2004. (Photo: Emma Jervis)

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BROADBAND is available in rural Ireland and politicians who say it isn't are doing a disservice to the industry, according to the owner of a Schull-based broadband supplier.

Jane Hurley and her husband Brendan established Digital Forge in 2004. ‘We have been providing high speed, good quality, and reasonably priced broadband throughout West Cork for more than a decade,' she said.

Ms Hurley contacted The Southern Star following the publication of a report which called on the County Council to avail of EU grants to provide free wi-fi to visitors in every town and village in the district, particularly Bantry and Castletownbere.

However, people already have options, according to the Schull businesswoman. 

Ms Hurley said: ‘Not only is it available in the towns, it is also available in the outlying rural areas. In fact, we frequently get new customers who comment on the speed of the broadband we provide.

 ‘Tourists, when they arrive in a new town or village, are pleasantly surprised to find they have immediate access to mobile broadband.'

She said the village of Schull has been providing free wi-fi for two hours in any given day, for at least three years. Ms Hurley explained that the Fastnet Film Festival, Schull Business and Tourism Association, and Digital Forge work together to provide the free wi-fi on the Main Street of the village. 

And she said: ‘There is no reason why other communities or business groups couldn't come together to fund such services in their area. The option does exist.' 

And it is not as expensive as one might think, she added, ‘especially if interested parties co-operate.'

She did, however, say that free wi-fi in public places is not ‘a magic wand' when it comes to creating jobs for young people, and for politicians to say as much is an ‘over-simplification.'

Ms Hurley said: ‘Politicians should not dismiss companies, like us, who already provide high quality services to rural areas, simply because we are not a large corporation.'

She added: ‘It is unfortunate that a town like Skibbereen, with Ludgate at its centre, does not have free wi-fi on the streets. If Schull can do it, why not the rest of West Cork?'

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