Longford County Council and the Department of Rural and Community Development are delighted to announce the opening of eight Broadband Connections Points (BCP’s) in County Longford under the Connected Communities initiative.
Connected Communities, an initiative of the Government of Ireland in partnership with Vodafone Ireland and NBI, provides free high-speed internet access at publicly accessible sites through BCPs. This access can be used for remote working, study, community and digital skills training and other digitally enabled services and amenities. These BCPs are among the first premises to be connected under the National Broadband Plan (NBP).
Pupils in eleven primary schools across county Longford are also set to benefit from the BCP initiative with high-speed access to be delivered at each of those schools in the coming months.
In Longford, there are 8,602 premises in the Intervention Area (IA), also known as the amber area, of the National Broadband Plan which includes homes, farms, commercial businesses and schools. This equates to almost 40 per cent of all premises in the county. Under the National Broadband Plan, Longford will see an investment of €32million in the new high-speed fibre broadband network.
Commenting on the launch, Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development said, “I want to congratulate Longford on the launch of their BCP network as part of the Connected Communities initiative. Connected Communities will unlock the potential in rural communities, transforming the lives of its residents. Whether that is connected working, the creative arts, eHealth or educational supports, the BCPs will be supported to provide the services that their communities need.”
“These premises are not merely a stop-gap measure ahead of the arrival of the National Broadband Plan, it is our hope that they will instead become long-term community assets, fixtures of their communities, providing next generation services to Ireland’s rural heartlands,” Minister Humphreys concluded.
Mullinalaghta Community Centre and Ballymore Shamrocks GAA Grounds were some of the first live BCPs in the state. Currently, internal and external access to high-speed broadband is available at Mullinalaghta Community Centre, The Latin School Community Centre Moyne, Moydow Community Centre and Abbeyshrule Airfield. Meanwhile, Ballymore GAA, Colmcille GAA, Carrickedmond GAA and Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre are offering external access at present.
Welcoming the formal opening of the eight locations, Chief Executive of Longford County Council Paddy Mahon paid tribute to the various teams and stakeholders behind the roll out. “This type of co-ordinated effort, harnessing the power of hi-tech connectivity with the energy, efficiency and good-will of communities on the ground is what makes Longford the place to be. It shows how, with the right supports, rural communities can achieve anything they want, even in the face of a global pandemic. I wish all of these communities well with their new connection points and look forward to seeing the further revitalisation of rural areas in the months and years ahead.”
Speaking at the launch, Cathaoirleach Paul Ross congratulated all involved in the establishment of these hubs. “This is a great day for the people of Longford. Coming from the village of Legan which, not so long ago, had the slowest broadband speed in the country, to see these connections being established in such rural parishes across our county is fantastic. Connectivity is key and it has the potential to revitalise the fabric of our rural society, bridging the urban – rural divide and making our county a more attractive place to live and work.’
Broadband Officer for Longford County Council, Christine Collins, thanked all the key stakeholders for their support and encouragement and paid a special tribute to the volunteers in the BCP community groups for their commitment, enthusiasm and determination which has made the initiative such a success. “I would also like to sincerely thank the support of Longford County Council’s Regeneration Team in obtaining Accelerated Town and Village funding to furnish the BCPS, with desks, chairs, monitors, docking stations, printers and smart TV’s, and for obtaining funding to refurbish Moydow Community Centre under the Rural Regeneration and Development funding stream as part of Project Ireland 2040.” Funding was also provided by the Government of Ireland under the Department of Rural and Community Development and Longford County Council.
NBI Peter Hendrick, Chief Executive Officer at National Broadband Ireland, commented, “NBI is proud to be empowering the Broadband Connection Points programme by installing community facilities with essential access to free high-speed internet access. As our teams continue to make tremendous progress with our Fibre-to-the-Home rollout to bring high-speed broadband to every home, farm, business and school in the Intervention Area, BCPs pave the way for the wider rollout of the National Broadband Plan.”
Sinéad Bryan, Vodafone Ireland Business Director said: “In the last 14 months, we have seen a step-change in relation to how we work and do business. One thing I am certain of is that we have been propelled in terms of how we live, work and interact – and firmly placed on a fast track to fully embracing the digital society. Connected Communities, and the superfast WIFI from Vodafone launching in Longford today, will provide an opportunity to transform the economic and social fabric of these communities by addressing the digital divide, improving lives, creating jobs and stimulating rural economic growth - so that no one is left behind in the digital society.’’
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