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Gaggin workers say ‘thanks, Star’ for helping them get broadband

August 27th, 2020 11:45 AM

By Emma Connolly

Maeve Kennedy, Tony Cullinane and James O’Regan with TD Michael Collins were this week celebrating finally getting a broadband connection in Gaggin. (Photo: Denis Boyle)

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GAGGIN residents who had to work from a church carpark since the pandemic due to impossibly slow broadband speeds, say they feel like they’ve won the lotto after they’ve been thrown a lifeline.

In recent days a 4G mast has been erected which has seen their internet speeds shoot up from an intolerable 2mgbs, to an incredible 80 mgbs.

The trio of home workers, Maeve O’Sullivan-Kennedy, James O’Regan and Tony Cullinane, who have been the faces of the campaign for better broadband for their community, say it’s seen their lives change overnight.

This is the first week they’ve actually been able to work from their home offices as opposed to relatives’ homes, and various other locations. They’ve also been able to have Zoom calls without the anxiety of the connection dropping,  and have even been able to enjoy a spot of Netflix and YouTube.

They have thanked The Southern Star for highlighting their plight in June, along with local Cllr Gillian Coughlan and Independent TD Michael Collins, who got it over the line.

When lockdown first hit, Maeve, James and Tony were forced to work out of their cars in St Patrick’s Church carpark in Bandon.

It was a case of working in hot and cramped conditions until their laptop batteries gave up, returning home at lunch, and then coming back for the afternoon. The physical and mental strain of this, not surprisingly, took its toll.

But because of their location in a valley, internet providers told them there was nothing that could be done, and the only option was to wait for the National Broadband Plan (NBP).

Bandon’s tuition centre offered the trio spaces in their building and as generous as this was, it wasn’t a permanent solution.

However, Deputy Michael Collins relentlessly pursued the issue for them, and through a contact in the 3 network, he was able to get a temporary mast erected for them which will ensure high quality speeds until the NBP is delivered. ‘This just shows there was a solution there all along for them, and that the issue was able to be resolved if an effort was made,’ he said.

James, an IT consultant said: ‘It’s unbelievable. I don’t know myself. This is what we dreamt of, it’s like a negative cloud hanging over us has been lifted. It’s also great for the entire community, as it makes it more attractive for people to live here as internet speeds are the first thing that people look for.

‘We have to thank The Southern Star, Gillian Coughlan and Michael Collins without whom this wouldn’t have happened.’ Tony, who works in sales, said his family feel like they’ve won the lotto.

‘I had my first Teams meeting at home this week and my wife had a two-hour Zoom meeting. This wouldn’t have been possible before,’ he said.

Maeve, who works in financial services, said it was like a huge weight had been lifted as she’s seen her speeds go from 1mbps to around 50mbps.

‘I’ve finally been able to use my home office which has been set up for so long – and I’m able to work normal office hours instead of trying to start early when the connection might be better. I was also able to have a long-awaited video call with a good friend in New Zealand which meant so much to me – all thanks to The Southern Star, Gillian Coughlan and Michael Collins.’

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