Addressing continuing frustrations with rural broadband is the subject of an initiative from the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) Ltd. ICBAN, is a cross-border partnership of Councils along the border area known as the Central Border Region, and includes the County Council areas of Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo.
Cllr Sinead Maguire, Chair of ICBAN explains the reasoning for the project, “There are common business challenges and frustrations which arise from not being able to access and use the internet, by virtue of location alone. This is not forgetting the teachers whose interactive white boards can’t operate to support curriculum content, the farm family worried about submitting their returns online and on time, or University students less inclined to return home as much as they might like to because the home wi-fi doesn’t meet their expanding demands. This report by ICBAN is an initiative to help address these challenges by focusing on the technical infrastructure solutions.
“We have broadband delivery and access across many parts of our Region, and those involved should be commended for their efforts to date”, notes the Chair of the cross-border partnership, before adding, “However, too many frustrations still exist and many citizens don’t have a service that meets their needs and indeed many have no service yet at all. Solutions must reach all communities in the identified Council areas, including not-spot areas. After all rural citizens have the same needs and rights to demand a service comparable to urban dwellers elsewhere on this island and continent.”
With reference to the National Broadband Plan to be rolled out by government, the border Councils working with ICBAN want to ensure that these areas are best prepared to capitalise on the infrastructure investment. The group has engaged broadband expert Mike Kiely of The Bit Commons, based in London, to provide technical advice and expertise. Mr Kiely said, “This piece of work will examine progress to date in providing broadband connections and services in the border county areas. The ambition stated in the National Broadband Plan and the competition between the bidders: Eir, Siro and ENets, for the state rollout presents its own opportunities and challenges. The initiative will complement the work towards the National Broadband Plan by examining how local authorities can best embrace and support the ambitions of the service providers and the government to perform all the work that is needed. Some of the challenges being looked at include the resourcing by operators, such as the engineering manpower needed to deliver on the ambitions, and if this is constrained then how might this be addressed.”
The key objective for the initiative is to help ensure that internet connections are rolled out as quickly and effectively as possible, to serve both consumers and business users.