INADEQUATE broadband is creating serious distress for people working from home during the pandemic.
That’s according to Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) who said she has received over 100 contacts from constituents in recent weeks in relation to various issues around broadband.
The Bandon-based councillor raised the issue of inadequate broadband service and slow speeds at a meeting of the local authority last week.
She said that as well as the obvious distress, it’s impacting productivity.
While she welcomed the announcement last week that all major telecoms providers have committed to a number of measures to help people stay in touch and work from home, she said it goes nowhere near addressing the core problem.
‘The main issue is the insufficient physical structure in many places. We need an urgent deployment of technical teams on a county-by-county basis, working with the local authorities to identify blackspots and the immediate installation of the necessary hardware,’ Cllr Coughlan told The Southern Star.
‘This is a problem that is going to pertain into the future. Companies have seen how people can work from home, but they can’t if they don’t have the facilities. This investment is not just short-term for however long this pandemic will last, it’s right into the future.’
She has described the current remote working as ‘a revolution’ in working.
‘It’s a great opportunity for West Cork, too, in that if we provide the infrastructure and broadband people of all qualifications could work from their own communities and rejuvenate small communities across West Cork.’
Cllr Coughlan – who works as a secondary school teacher and is uploading work online for her students using Microsoft Teams – said this pandemic has shown that if people are located in one place then that creates an opportunity for local businesses.
‘It was agreed at the Council meeting that a letter would be written to the Minister for Communications to urge and encourage him to really get to grips with the broadband issue. It’s very serious as some people can’t work from home, it’s having an impact on their productivity, and it’s hugely frustrating.’
She said that when people have days to fill, work is a refuge and if you can’t work, then that has an impact on them.
‘It’s causing an awful lot of distress among my constituents. I’ve had over 100 contacts with different stories just related to broadband itself like blackspots, slow speeds and no coverage. We know there is a load on the system, but something has to be done if we expect people to be productive during this time. Also people are still paying for broadband and are not getting the service that they should be getting.’
‘The lesson from this whole pandemic is that work habits will change’.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton earlier announced the commitment of all major providers to ensure people have the services they need to stay connected and provide extra capacity where needed during the Covid-19 crisis.