Eircom’s next 1Gbps fibre village will need a good story to tell

3 Jul 2015

Creativity and good storytelling will be a driving force in deciding the next community in Ireland to get 1Gbps fibre broadband, says Eircom's Carolan Lennon

With a deadline set for 15 September, good storytelling and creativity will determine Eircom’s selection of the next 1Gbps village in Ireland, which will get kitted out with 1Gbps fibre before the rest of the country.

The managing director of Eircom Wholesale, Carolan Lennon, said that since news broke of the competition to find the next 1Gbps village after Belcarra she has been inundated with enquiries, including questions from local politicians.

“People raise it with them in their clinics,” Lennon said.

The winning village will net itself a €250,000 investment to bring 1Gbps fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connectivity.

“Effectively it’s a chance to skip the queue before the National Broadband Strategy begins,” Lennon said. She is referring to the Irish Government’s €512m plan to connect 600,000 homes and 100,000 businesses with the minimum of 30Mbps broadband connectivity. The Government’s project will begin in 2016 and will conclude in 2020, meaning many communities will be keeping an eye out to see when 21st-century connectivity will arrive in their area.

“We learned in Belcarra that connecting a community to fibre has tons of benefits in terms of business and life, and especially for the farming community and the local schools.”

Supporting the competition and acting as judges are the Small Firms Association, Silicon Republic and the Irish Farming Association (IFA), all of whom welcome the initiative and see how the benefits can transform a community.

Communities interested in entering the competition can do so here.

The closing date for entries is Tuesday 15 September.

Looking for real creativity

“We’re looking to see some real creativity and get a real sense that this is a community that will be enriched by the connectivity they will receive.

“I’d say 25pc of our decision will be based on creativity – the other factors will be factual and based on how the project can be delivered. The real value-add for us will be how villages or communities tell their story.”

The typical community that could vie for the €250,000 investment would have a population of less than 800 people. “Generally this would be the level that would be covered in the National Broadband Strategy intervention. So this is a chance to skip the queue.”

After receiving applications on 15 September Lennon envisages a final decision to be made within six weeks. The rollout will begin in early 2016 and could take up to six months.

“The wonderful thing about Belcarra was we didn’t know how many local businesses and farmers would embrace it and the whole community got behind it. We picked Belcarra by ourselves but this time we want to open it up for other similarly-sized communities to vie for the project.

“For us we are interested to see what stories will emerge, what case studies will crop up and how people’s lives will be enhanced by having access to 1Gbps broadband.

“It will help us to make the case for the rest of rural Ireland.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years