Tralee innovation hub first in queue for free broadband deal

28 Apr 2017

Image: asharkyu/Shutterstock

HQTralee is the first business hub to receive free 1GB fibre broadband from Vodafone and Siro as part of the companies’ national Gigabit Hub Initiative.

Housing 18 businesses and employing 50 people on site (with that number expected to double this summer), HQTralee is becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Among the myriad of innovation hubs throughout Ireland, HQTralee has landed Vodafone and Siro’s two years of free 1GB fibre broadband.

It’s the first of several awards of such free connectivity, with Tralee preceding Drogheda, Dundalk, Letterkenny, Cavan and Carlow in the coming weeks.

As part of the initiative, Vodafone and Siro sought feedback from businesses throughout the area, with several obvious areas of particular concern.

For example, all surveyed said that super-fast internet connectivity would substantially increase their productivity, and were confident that the provision of reliable 1GB-per-second broadband in regional hubs would encourage more companies to establish or relocate to smaller towns.

They also believed its provision would make towns with access more attractive to FDI by multinationals, and that the availability of 1GB fibre broadband would have a positive impact on the local economy, supporting existing enterprises and communities.

“We feel that there’s no reason why people shouldn’t be able to enjoy the lifestyle of living in a town like Tralee, but being able to take advantage of the same level of broadband connectivity as Hong Kong or Tokyo,” said Ken Tobin, co-founder of HQTralee.

“Now, thanks to Vodafone and Siro, this dream is a reality as Tralee residents don’t have to compromise and can enjoy the perfect work-life balance.

“At HQTralee, you can get 1GB broadband and still live within minutes of 10 beaches, the two highest mountains in Ireland … and a tradition of culture, nightlife, food, arts and sport – all within a one hour flight to Dublin and one-and-a-half-hour flight to London!”

Commenting at the launch, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, said the development would have a “tangible effect” on the region and sector.

Yesterday, Mitchell O’Connor launched Ireland’s National Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, to be coordinated in Ireland by the Irish Computer Society Foundation, working with the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies.

“There are many young people who use the internet and digital devices on an almost constant basis, but don’t have the full skills needed to convert this interest into an actual job,” said Jim Friars, CEO of the Irish Computer Society.

“We all know that this is not only about filling existing jobs. It’s also about making sure Europe and Ireland have enough digitally skilled workers to fill the many new jobs that the Digital Single Market will create.

“No other investment will bring a higher return for society. But we can’t do this alone.”

Updated, 2.35pm, 28 April 2017: This article was amended to reflect the surveying of businesses in the Tralee area, rather than the surveying of innovation hubs throughout Ireland, as was incorrectly implied.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic