Broadband Urban Rural divide


Adrian Weckler of the Sunday Business Post penned this article in yesterday’s paper about a free Wifi service for Dublin. I am dumbfounded by the following remark, where he is talking about the cost of such an implementation.

"It would cost no more than €10 million to create, a
fraction of the vast sums being deployed in poorly adopted rural
broadband schemes (for people who are lukewarm about the technology in
the first place

Yes – you read that last bit correctly;  I wonder what Damien thinks about these kind of sweeping statements.

Regardless of whether the schemes have been poorly adopted or not – I think the take up/use of the Metropolitan Area Networks should have been mentioned as well.


3 thoughts on “Broadband Urban Rural divide

  1. Dublin has wireless in abundance, it has fibre in some areas, it is cabled up in many areas and it has DSL. Dublin is far far more connected than most other cities and towns as it is. It’d be great to see a free city-wide metropolitan wireless network.

    However, a lot more people in rural and semi-rural areas need to be given the chance to use the Internet. Inis Turk were given a community broadband network, beamed via wireless from the mainland and I believe 30% of households have so far signed up for it. An adoption rate far higher than many other locations.

    As for a the costs. Nowhere near 10million has been spent on rural schemes. I’m sure it may even be less than 2 million promised so far. It’s probably less than a million that’s in fact been paid out from what I’m hearing.

    There’s been much spin of late that rural communities are not signing up for these Group Broadband Schemes as much as the Government want them to do and that of the x amount of approved schemes only a fraction have started. Yet, the Govt are delaying funding of these schemes. It’s significantly more difficult to start rural networks due to the inability to connect to backhaul whereas there’s lots of it in large cities. I’m all for more and more broadband everywhere but taking a dig at rural people for lack of enthusiasm is not the way to justify spending on a city scheme. If there wasn’t enthusiasm then why have 100s of groups taken a lot of trouble to try and build broadband networks?

    I do wonder who has been “educating” journalists about rural communities not signing up in droves for broadband and wonder is it linked to the fact that the GBS isn’t as big a success as it should be, what with the massive amount of red tape and the snails pace application process.

    A civil servant told my group over a year ago that the bulk of the money would not be spent and it would in the end be given to eircom to enable rural communities. It now looks like this is going to happen.

  2. Hi Kevin, Damien,

    I know it’s a bit of a sweeping statement, but it’s (genuinely) not meant as a dig at rural people. I know it probably comes across as such.

    When discussing broadband in Ireland, about 95 per cent of the media — broadcast and print — seem to have arrived at a common and unquestioned consensus: we have low broadband penetration because of Eircom, Comreg and the Minister for Communications. We, the people, the mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, children, all want it. There’s a ‘crisis’. If only it could be provided everywhere, most people would — surely — sign up.

    I don’t think it’s the whole truth, though. Definitely, Eircom has dragged its heels. I remember writing a scathing piece on its first ‘broadband’ product four odd years ago — a crappy 256k (or was it 128k?) connection for a staggering €120 (or so) a month. It’s been ultra cautious for its own self-interested commercial reasons.

    And definitely, the Minister for Communication has talked tough without doing too much.

    And there are some serious problems that have hit the group broadband schemes which are nothing to do with low or high demand.

    But how high up the list will this be on the doorsteps at next year’s election? 15th? 23rd? Somewhere between too many speedbumps and not enough pooper-scoopers? Seriously, now: is there actually any popular pressure on local politicians about broadband? What does this say about the true nature of the general population’s attitude to this?

    I remember writing more than one feature before the last general election on where the parties stood on broadband and other IT issues. Basically, for almost Dail candidates, campaign directors and party strategists, it was a non-issue.

    I will be doing so again before the next election. But I’m not hopeful of finding many Dail candidates who will be putting this anywhere near the centre of their campaigns. (There are one or two honourable exceptions.)

    This is all I’m getting at, really. I know I’ve written a couple of narky articles in recent months.

    And I’m sorry if some of this coincides with some arguments that Eircom is trying flush out. Or Dempsey.



  3. Adrian,

    The response from both yourself and Damien drags to the surface some of the issues that have been widely discussed in terms of provision of services and the “difficulties” with that; it’s shocking to see these still being discussed.

    With regard to politicians and the pressure that can be applied there, I will bow to Damien on this. All I can mention is my own experience before the last election, where I made an appointment with a candidate that was successfully elected in Sligo Leitrim. On putting out my stall on the need for broadband, it was commented by this person that there were 2 things which they did not understand – “the North and broadband”….

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