Rural employment losing out due to low broadband speeds

Members of Kilkenny County Council have made a plea for broadband speeds to be improved in towns around the county because the areas can’t compete with the broadband available in Kilkenny city and employment is suffering as a result.

Members of Kilkenny County Council have made a plea for broadband speeds to be improved in towns around the county because the areas can’t compete with the broadband available in Kilkenny city and employment is suffering as a result.

“Surely if we are serious about employment, we should at least bring the scheduled towns up to 15MB, which is the minimum available in Kilkenny city. Otherwise we will never be able to compete,” Cllr Maurice Shortall (Lab) said at the council’s monthly meeting. He added afterwards that had also spoken to Deputy Ann Phelan, who is set to raise the matter with Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.

And Cllr Matt Doran (FF) agreed: “People are no longer able to work from home because of the depleted broadband system.”

A case in point is photographer Claire Dunne, who lives a few miles outside Castlecomer and is working on setting up a new business that relies heavily on a reliable and fast broadband connection. She says this isn’t possible in Castlecomer, however, and is therefore looking at options in Kilkenny city instead.

Her aim is to employ two people by the end of this year, plus an additional two in the medium term and up to 10 in the longer term. “To set up this business 100% we need the broadband that is available in the Kilkenny city area,” she said.

But these jobs, Cllr Shortall said, would be a huge boost to Castlecomer.

Ms Dunne is currently working from home, where even getting a dial-up connection is a problem and instead they are using a satellite service.

It’s a problem for people across the county who either decide to try working from home or want to set up a new business in their own rural area.

“You think, ‘Times are hard. So much of my work is on location so maybe I’ll work from home to cut costs’,” she said. “Or for people who are driving in to work, they might think they can move home to save money and then they find their business is isolated.”

“It’s all over the county,” she said.