The Government’s broadband scheme will cover half a million homes, equivalent to a quarter of all Irish households, making it one of the largest state interventions in a telecoms market anywhere in the world.
Announcing details of the Government’s finalised intervention strategy last week, Minister for Communications Denis Naughten said the plan would deliver high-speed broadband to 542,000 homes and businesses in so-called broadband black spots.
But in Co Longford’s Legan - one of those so called broadband blackspots - business owners remain cautious about the new initiative.
Billy Moran & Sons Vans & Diggers Sale and Repairs Ltd operates on the outskirts of the village.
The company, like most in Legan faces speed issues with its internet provider on a daily basis.
It is with Eircom and Meteor.
Avril Bridget Moran, who runs the administrative side of the business, says that some days she waits hours for an email to send!
In recent times, the company installed debit card machines for customer convenience.
GPRS terminals were established to accommodate the new technology, however it failed to work.
“We had a technician out but they still didn’t work, so we had to send them back,” said Avril before pointing out that broadband was then installed at the business.
'Hit and miss' is how she describes the internet facility at Billy Moran & Sons.
“Some days it works and some days it doesn't work,” she sighed.
“And we are one of the lucky ones to even have broadband!”
Avril says that even to download an image of a vehicle for a potential customer can take anything from 15 minutes to half an hour to download, attach to an email and send.
“We would use the internet a lot for the downloading of payments for overseas cars, etc and the whole thing could cut out and fail while you are in the middle of processing a payment,” she continued.
“We actually use business on line now because nobody uses cheques any more, they pay online; that’s the way it is these days.”
Even first thing in the morning when Avril comes into the office to start her day, once she switches on the computer, it could take 15 or 20 minutes for her emails to open.
“We also got a second broadband modem installed recently with Meteor, so now we have two internet providers and that is an additional cost for us,” she added, before pointing out that the move has helped to improve services at the company.
“There are three businesses in our area and we are waiting in anticipation for the roll-out of the fibre broadband, but nothing is happening in relation to that.
“Everything in our business is impacted by poor broadband - even down to general payments and making phone calls.
“When the plan was announced last week I was hopeful; I don’t want to be pessimistic about this, but we will just have to wait and see how it all works out.”