AN INNISHANNON publican’s vision to set up a digital hub over his bar in the village has been put on hold because he cannot get high fibre broadband, despite an exchange being located less than 150 metres from his premises.
Johnny Crowley of Johnny Crowley’s Bar told The Southern Star that he wanted to set up a digital hub just like the successful ones operating in Skibbereen, Dunmanway and Bantry.
‘When I contacted National Broadband Ireland (NBI) they told me that the village isn’t part of the plan yet and that rural areas are being prioritised first,’ said a frustrated Johnny.
‘I was willing to take the cost of converting the open space I have which can have up to 15 desks easily, two conference rooms, a kitchenette and toilets but it’s all on hold now as I cannot be guaranteed getting the high speed fibre broadband.’
Johnny said that there’s an Eir exchange at the local garda station, which is less than 150 metres from his bar, so the installation would not prove to be difficult. ‘There’s a chamber even outside the door of my bar and ducting outside for a connection but they won’t do it.’
Johnny even contacted Minister Heather Humphries over his predicament, whom he said had been insisting that all villages should be getting high fibre broadband installed as part of the National Broadband Plan.
‘I just can’t take the chance without getting guaranteed high fibre broadband. While the National Broadband Plan is great overall, it’s not helping people like me in rural villages in particular and they told me it could be next year or the year after before it’s installed in Innishannon.’
Cork South West Independent TD Michael Collins said setting up a hub over the bar is an ideal location for this, but because there is little or no broadband in the village it is a disaster for business people like Johnny.
‘It could be eight years before parts of the county will be connected as part of the National Broadband Plan and this government must immediately fund the private wireless operators to role out good broadband to rural communities,’ said Deputy Collins.
Meanwhile, Peter Walsh of Openut Ltd – who provide a consultancy service to many homes and businesses with poor connectivity – said many rural dwellers and businesses will not see their property assessed by 2025/26, never mind getting a connection from the National Broadband Plan.
‘From the outset other broadband delivery options should have been included in the plan and options made available to customers.
‘It’s not too late to alter course and incentivise other providers to fill the current gaps that are obvious to everyone,’ said Peter.
‘Some of our clients have tried many providers and have run out of options. They cannot operate their business or work efficiently from home and are very frustrated by the roll out.’
Peter said that the availability of Elon Musk’s SpaceX ‘Starlink’ satellite systems is the answer to their prayers and he installed one such satellite last week for John O’ Leary, who runs Coomhola Doors and Windows outside Bantry, who was struggling to get any decent broadband.
‘Clients who have installed the system are delighted with their investment and get average download speeds between 100 to 200mg consistently and upload speeds are consistent too.’
Earlier this year, Peter helped two Rossmore businesswomen – Emma Fitzpatrick and Lesley Cox – install their ‘Starlink’ satellites in order for them to run their businesses from their respective homes.