Monday 16 December 2019

Lack of broadband means UK-based Irish tech company cannot move operations home

Caped Koala Studios io-founders Conor Murphy, from Glanmire in Cork, and Neil Gallagher, from Arranmore in Donegal.
Caped Koala Studios io-founders Conor Murphy, from Glanmire in Cork, and Neil Gallagher, from Arranmore in Donegal.
Caped Koala Studios io-founders Conor Murphy, from Glanmire in Cork, and Neil Gallagher, from Arranmore in Donegal.
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

An Irish learning and entertainment company currently based in London cannot move the business to their hometown as there is no internet broadband connection in the area.

Caped Koala Studios is launching educational app collection 'Pora Ora' for children at the end of November and is trying to invest on the island of Arranmore in Donegal.

Co-founders Conor Murphy, from Glanmire in Cork, and Neil Gallagher, from Arranmore in Donegal, said they cannot provide employment in the area because there is no broadband connection on the island.

"The island is still connected to the mainland with an old telephone exchange that is incompatible with a broadband connection," Conor Murphy told independent.ie.

"We're trying to invest in the area, empower the community and tap into the skills there and give young people a chance to build their lives on the island, without having to move.

"At the moment, anyone who wants to pursue a career in technology has to leave the island."

The community in Arranmore is now starting a campaign to see if they can source a private company who will set up a compatible internet connection.

The population of Arranmore, which is part of the Donegal Gaeltacht, is just over 500. More than half the male population is unemployed, while approximately 26 per cent of the female population are without work.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle said the potential for employment in rural areas is huge, if broadband was available.

"There is mobile broadband on the island, but it's not adequate," he told independent.ie.

"It should be possible to create a fibre link for fixed broadband on Arranmore.

"There is a new development council on the island now and, ultimately, we should be able to be part of the ESB's new fibre broadband network that was announced last week.

"I've been raising issues about the difficulties of broadband in rural areas in Leinster House for a while now," he continued.

"The Western Development Commission recently estimated that 20,000 jobs could be created in rural areas if companies could develop and enhance their online trading presence. The potential for job creation is huge."

Caped Koala Studios is currently based in the UK, but both Conor Murphy and Neil Gallagher are personally interested in moving their families back to Ireland.

The team were at this week's Web Summit in Dublin to "create a buzz around the apps".

"Pora Ora is a collection of high-quality educational apps for kids," Conor said.

"Children can use the apps, which cover a variety of different subjects, and unlock a collection of pets which they can use from one app to another.

"We're launching at the end of November and we'll be selling into schools.

"Ultimately, we're trying to build a brand and we're at the Web Summit to create a buzz around the apps.

"We're bringing these apps to the classroom and the home and we're just looking to move our base part of the operations to give opportunities to people at home."

Online Editors

Also in Business