Friday 25 May 2018

TV producer drives to nearby cattle shed to get a wifi connection

Garret Maguire in a local farmer's cattle shed in Co Cavan Photo: Lorraine Teevan
Garret Maguire in a local farmer's cattle shed in Co Cavan Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Greg Harkin

Garret Maguire has a successful film and TV production company, with commissions from channels throughout Ireland and Britain.

However, you will not find him or any of his six staff in their editing suite or studio in Co Cavan when they are ready to send packages to their clients.

The only place they can get a decent enough signal to use the internet is in a cattle shed on a neighbouring farm.

"It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?" said Garret, "but that's the reality of life in rural Ireland for companies like ours."

Having worked for Sky News, Garret left behind fibre-optic cables in Belfast for dial-up. He returned to his native county to start his own TV production company, Maguire Media, installing a state-of-the-art studio in Mountain Lodge, 10km north of Bailieborough.

However, he soon realised that simply getting online was going to be a nightmare.

"We tried everything," he said. "We went through several suppliers. We tried fixed line and we tried satellite, but nothing worked."

Eventually, he settled for a 3G dongle from Three.

"We can see the mast from the office. It's 1km away and we thought this would do us," he said.

"But for the past three years it has been a nightmare. It would work okay. It wouldn't be great, but we could work with it, then we would lose the signal and it would be a month before it would come back again.

"It would take seven hours to send a relatively small file and it was becoming impossible again.

"I found myself ringing the supplier every day for a month."

The poor signal issue was finally resolved a few months ago.

"We jumped in the car and turned on the computer and dongle and drove around the area for a while and eventually discovered the best signal from the nearby mast was in a cattle shed on a neighbour's farm," said Garret.

"So that's what we have to do when we're sending files. If anyone is going to Dublin we'll get files sent from there instead, but I just feel rural Ireland has been abandoned by the State when it comes to connectivity.

"Millions of euro were poured into the national broadband scheme, but it appears not a lot was done with it.

"We covered the General Election count in a modern gym on the edge of Cavan town. It took an hour to send a package to TV3. That's crazy."

Garret is sceptical of any sort of quick fix. "We might have to wait another 10 years, and that's if we're lucky," he said.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business