independent

Monday 23 October 2017

No high-speed broadband for St Kevin's NS

Myles Buchanan

St Kevin's National School in Glendalough can't access high-speed broadband even though the school is located near to a fibre cabinet exchange.

The school with 130 pupils also looks likely to miss out on Government plans to roll out high-speed broadband to all rural areas.

Principal Anne Savage feels the lack of broadband access is impacting on both pupils and teachers.

'We can only operate around three to four computers at a time before everything is held up. We have 130 pupils attending, and with staff you are talking about 140 possible users. It's simply not good enough. It also makes administration work very difficult.

'A few years ago a fibre cables cabinet was placed within 1km of the school, which had everyone very excited as we thought we would be getting high-speed broadband, but it turned out it was only linked up to new telephone lines. The school has an old line, like many homes and businesses in the area, which is linked to Trooperstown.'

Pat Reid has a son attending the school and also runs his own business from home and has to contend with the same problem.

He said: 'They put in place a new fibre enable exchange in Laragh around a year and a half ago. The original one was put in place in the mid-80s and prior to that all the lines in the village were connected to Trooperstown, which is two and a half kilometres away. You need to be within 1km of the exchange to get the benefit.

'The school is only 400 metres away from the new cabinet but the 'eir' won't connect them. It's an issue for nearly everyone in the village.'

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten recently claimed that Ireland will be the first country in the world to bring broadband into every home. The National Broadband Plan aims to deliver high-speed broadband to every citizen and business in Ireland, particularly in rural locations.

The government has produced an interactive map of where it intends to roll out high-speed broadband.

However, Mr Reid argues that Laragh will once again be left behind.

'Laragh is deemed fibre enabled even though around 80 per cent of businesses and homes aren't. The village is marked as 'done' which simply isn't true.

'My son attends St Kevin's and it's so important, in the modern age especially, that schools have access to high-speed broadband. They have 20 to 25 laptops but if they use more than three or four of them their broadband width is gone already.

'You need to be within 50 metres of the line to really benefit and the school is 120 metres away so St Kevin's will miss out again. There is no point rolling out high-speed broadband to difficult to reach places if you don't ensure schools are included.'

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