OPEN Eir has announced that an additional 30,000 homes and businesses in rural parts of Cork county will have access to high speed broadband by the end of 2017.
Speaking in Castletownbere on Monday, Carolan Lennon, managing director of broadband provider Open Eir, also confirmed that the programme would lead to the creation of 50 new jobs nationwide.
The company is actively seeking applications for the paid apprenticeships, which will commence in September 2017, and take two years.
Those employed by the company will be based in Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Castletownbere – the four main hubs for the company’s latest round of investment, which is aimed at providing 300,000 new connections nationwide before the end of 2018.
There are currently 178,500 homes and businesses in Co Cork with access to high speed broadband – a figure that should increase to 208,000 by the end of next year.
A 55km fibre broadband line, offering 1,000MB, from Bantry to Castletownbere, was completed in recent months. The next phase is to run the fibre line a further 25km from Castletownbere to Allihies – a village that was named runner-up in the Fibre to the Home competition run by Eir in 2015.
One local businessman in Castletownbere, Aaron Byrne, owner of The Web computer shop, told The Southern Star: ‘Getting connected to a broadband speed of 1,000MB has changed my world – things that used to take two and half hours now takes five minutes.’
Meanwhile, the 185 inhabitants of Bere Island are hoping that their offer to run a submarine fibre cable free of charge will receive the support and backing of Open Eir.
John Walsh, who is the project co-ordinator with Bere Island Projects Group, said: ‘We, in partnership with business groups on the island, are hoping to bring the fibre cable to our exchange. Everything now is dependent on having high speed broadband and such a connection would ensure the survival of the island.’
Both Carolan Lennon and Richard Moat, chief executive of Eir, also met with representatives from the Western Committee of Cork County Council.
Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said tourism – an important industry in West Cork – is dependant on having high speed broadband.
He said the farming community also need a reliable service, and a good broadband speed is vital for the educational needs of young people. The councillor appealed to Eir representatives to focus on the periphery and to ‘make access to high speed broadband affordable’.