Rural broadband issue frustrating businesses
Clare woman Louise McGuane returned to Kilrush three years ago after 20 years working abroad, learning that coming back to Ireland has its challenges.
Taking over the family farm, she founded The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Company. But broadband proved an unwelcome obstacle.
The internet is vital for Louise’s business. She even thought of relocating her office to Limerick city or Shannon due to the unpredictable and frustrating coverage.
She said: "Anytime you do any kind of shipment you have to account for everything. All that’s done via a very specific online system.
"It is not possible for me to move any alcohol without registering all of it online with the Revenue Commissioners.
"So that’s effectively the reason why it’s impossible for me not to have broadband here, I just wouldn’t be able to function.
"Broadband is the most basic of requirements now. It’s like electricity was in the 1950s," she added.
Louise took the decision to install three satellite broadband receivers, at a high cost.
Clare County Council says it has taken concerns from locals, like Louise, on board.
The council will open three new digital hubs on Friday where people will able to rent desk space with high-speed broadband.
Urban McMahon, Broadband Officer with the council, said the council sees these hubs as an "intervention measure" to give those in Co Clare access to facilities while waiting for the National Broadband Plan to come through.
He said the idea came from the council’s 2017 Rural Development Strategy and concerns from locals about the absence of broadband and facilities with suitable broadband built into them.
He said: "It is connecting communities. We will cater for the business person, the home user, the holiday maker. We will cater particularly for the commuter."
The Government has said its plan to connect over a half a million rural homes and businesses to high-speed internet hasn't changed.
A spokesperson for Minister for Communications Denis Naughten told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that 90% of the country will have access by 2020.
Until then, business people like Louise will have to wait.