TO have a bad broadband service is one thing, but to be left with no service at all has come as a complete shock for one couple living in Ballylickey.
Anne Condon and her husband, who has a background in international finance, have lived all over the world, but chose West Cork as their place of retirement five years ago.
‘We struggled with broadband when we came first, but after nine months we managed to get someone to come up our drive and put boosters in the house. We had Wifi and everything was grand,’ said Anne.
‘It wasn’t super speed, but we don’t need super speed. We just needed access to the outside world through broadband. We needed to be able to connect with members of our family who are scattered all over the world – a son in Brussels, a brother in Goa and a sister in France.
‘Three weeks ago our internet went down. That is when I began calling the ‘Three’ number to try and find out what was going on. Over the last three weeks, I must have spoken to 15 people ... and never once did they call me back.
‘On Monday, April 25th I was told that ‘3’ could no longer guarantee us with broadband, which came as a bolt out of the blue because we had been clients for five years.
‘It is my understanding that since the amalgamation of 02 and ‘3’, there have been changes made to their masts, changes that the company have described as an upgrade, but which I would describe as a downgrade because we, here at Snave in Ballylickey, are no longer within the scope required to pick up 3G broadband.’
Anne, who is the secretary of the Ballylickey Tourism and Development Association, said: ‘I cannot understand how a group of people can be so disenfranchised in Ireland in 2016.
‘I am annoyed that we were knocked off without any prior warning, without any apology. I have spoken to ComReg, the Commission For Communications Regulation, and they say they can’t approach ‘3’ unless they get a sufficient number of complaints.
‘In approaching The Southern Star to get my message across, I am hoping that everyone affected by the so-called upgrade will contact ComReg and complain. The phone number is 1890 229668 and the customer care number is 083 3974736.’
Anne said: ‘We chose West Cork to live in because of the scenery, the pace of life, the wonderful food and restaurants. We have a terrific social and cultural life. We have neighbours who would bend over backwards for you, but my house – on Monday, April 25th – became bricks and mortar. It is no longer a home because without broadband I feel disconnected. I feel entombed.’
Anne and her husband have been in touch with other broadband providers but regrettably they are not able to provide the couple with a service. ‘Now we are looking at researching booster aerials and installing that ourselves in the hope that we can reconnect to the wider world,’ said Anne.
‘This situation is hugely frustrating for me, but there are businesses in the Ballylickey area that are suffering greatly too. In areas like West Cork that are densely populated, it should be possible to work from home, but how can a person do that without the right broadband connection?
‘And now we are being told that broadband won’t be rolled out to rural areas until 2017, or maybe even 2020. At that rate, I believe I will be dead and buried before anything happens.’
In the Skibbereen area, a busy working 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 an 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 with the merger with 02 and the “upgrade” to 4G that we have lost our Internet.
‘A the most of two young children – one a teenager – as well as having a husband who is self-employed the lack of Internet makes life extremely difficulty. Bye bye world wide web.’
Artist Paul Ciallis, said: ‘We’re the same here. We tried all the companies and nothing doing. The only one that we have any luck with is Vodafone, with mobile broadband. It is supposed to be 4G, but we get 3G at best.’
Sympathising with their plight, one woman took to Facebook and said her friends are going to have to return to the dark ages and board games for entertainment. Monopoly, anyone?