Fast internet 'will be game changer' for the farming community
Published 25/09/2015 | 02:30
Farmers believe that fast internet access can be a "game changer" for the agricultural community.
A new pilot high-power broadband project has been launched in the community that played host to the National Ploughing Championships for three years in a row.
European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan confirmed that Ratheniska, Co Laois, had been selected for the rural broadband pilot programme through an ESB-Vodafone joint venture, SIRO.
It is rolling out fibre-optic broadband network to 500,000 premises in 50 regional towns.
As he visited the 800-acre ploughing site, Mr Hogan said the provision of high-speed broadband for rural areas was a key objective across Europe.
"It is vital that the digital gap between urban and rural areas is closed as high-speed broadband connectivity is a major factor for the long-term sustainability of rural communities."
The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Eddie Downey said it was a "game changer" in rural Ireland.
"Everything we do in farming now, you need to connect," he said.
The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association's (ICMSA) John Comer stressed speed in rolling out a countrywide network was vital, and essential for rural businesses to compete globally.
So far 17 premises, including the Ratheniska National School, have been connected.
Sean Atkinson, chief executive of the new joint venture, said it was investing €450m in building the network, which means "Ratheniska's broadband infrastructure will be four times more powerful than Dublin".
SIRO's 100pc fibre broadband network will be deployed on ESB's existing overhead and underground infrastructure.