An EU-supported project to bring broadband to the last 1pc of the country not served by broadband is caught in political limbo until after the elections.
Over the years, I have championed the need for universal broadband as an important social and economic equaliser for Ireland. The irony, however, was all that time – closer to home – my own sister Jacinta, married to farmer Eddie Mulligan, in Kiltale, Co Meath, with three daughters Aoife (8), Ciara (6) and Rachel (3), tried time and time again to get broadband but couldn’t.
You see, she lives in one of those areas in the last 1-2pc of Ireland, which cannot be reached by conventional broadband like DSL or cable. Despite living on a main road 20 miles or so from Dublin, less than a mile down the road from an important EU agricultural R&D centre, which no doubt is connected to high-speed communications, she could not get any form of broadband to work.
"I tried all the mobile broadband products and none of them worked in my area. There was no signal," Jacinta explains.
Despite this – and ferrying her three little girls with her a lot of the time – Jacinta managed to complete a double Arts honours degree in Spanish and Geography at NUI Maynooth using broadband, where available, either at the university or at her parents’ house. Against the odds she succeeded. But, in modern Ireland, in 2011, you have to wonder why she had to struggle to have broadband in her home.
For the past two years, Silicon Republic has run a campaign to highlight the imperative of creating the digital infrastructure and services upon which the success of our economy depends.
The website for Digital 21 provides a forum for all those interested in accelerating the development of Ireland’s Digital Economy.