By Claire O’Brien
More than 10,000 homes and businesses in Athlone have access to broadband speeds of up to 100mb, but thousands have yet to sign up.
The service, which is part of eircom’s rollout of super-fast broadband can be accessed through eircom or through other internet providers and has been available since May of last year.
Moate will come on stream in August.
Paul Bradley, eircom’s director of corporate affairs says that nationally 900,000 people could use the new super-fast service, but just 100,000 avail of the service which is a fundamental change to what most people currently use.
When he spoke to the Athlone Advertiser, he was unable to say just how many have signed up through eircom or another supplier to access the high speed network.
However, if the breakdown in use nationally applies to Athlone, it means just one in nine homes and businesses have taken up internet connectivity which offers substantially higher bandwith for business and the potential to download and watch movies without buffering at home.
By the end of 2016 a total of 16 Westmeath areas including Castlepollard, Moate, Tyrrellspass, Multyfarnham, Lismacaffrey, Rochfortbridge, Kilbeggan, and Moyvore will also be enabled.
Mr Bradley says that when broadband providers have completed their rollout, 70 per cent of the country will have access to fibre-powered broadband.
A Government initiative is underway to identify the individual blackspots which will remain after that time, and they will be catered for under the National Broadband Plan.
Mr Bradley told the Athlone Advertiser he was heartened by comments made by the Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte about the desire to have “Rolls Royce” broadband in rural Ireland.
This scheme, coupled with the work done by companies like eircom will lead to what Mr Bradley calls “real improvement and an end to the urban rural digital divide”.
Mr Bradley was speaking to the Advertiser in advance of a meeting in Mullingar last night hosted by Mullingar’s Chamber of Commerce, as part of an awareness campaign to advise people that there is local access to much higher broadband speeds.
The practical implications for homeowners are that it doesn’t matter if you and your neighbour share a connection or if within a single household there are three or four people online and watching TV online because the connection doesn’t weaken.
“It’s a constant connection,” he said, adding that it’s particularly useful for small businesses who want to reduce costs by having mobile access to documents, applications, and program stored in the cloud.
Separately there was an announcement by the ESB and Vodafone this week that together they will be providing similar high speed internet through the ESB network to 50 rural towns, including Athlone.
Gabrielle McFadden TD welcomed the news that work is set to commence in the coming months.
“Upgrading our broadband network is crucial to our economic recovery,” she said.
“Improving broadband access in rural Ireland will help ensure that our economic recovery is being felt in every town and village.”