300 towns will get ‘wi-fi hot spots’ while waiting for fibre

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300 towns will get ‘wi-fi hot spots’ while waiting for fibre

  


Business Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Business Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Hundreds of towns and villages are to get high-speed internet hubs while they await the delivery of fibre broadband.

Schools, community centres and sports clubs are being identified as suitable locations for hot-desk facilities and wi-fi points.

The move is an acknowledgement that many households will still be waiting years before broadband is brought to their door.

The Broadband Connection Points (BCP) will be open to business people as well as members of the public from next year.

According to the plan there will be approximately 300 centres nationwide.

It is anticipated between seven and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county.

“All BCPs will provide free wi-fi access to communities. Some locations will also have additional facilities, such as hot-desking,” the plan states.

“The BCPs will provide access to digital services and enhance online participation.”

They are to be marketed as “hubs to support local economic and social initiatives”.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys said the facilities will reduce the need for people to make long journeys to get proper internet access.

“They’ll be comfortable areas where people can go in and use high-speed broadband as opposed to driving around in cars,” she said.

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It is understood 51 schools, 14 tourism locations, 138 community centres, 22 local businesses and three business parks have been identified as suitable locations.

Speaking about the wider impact of the project on businesses, Ms Humphreys said it would be a “game-changer for rural Ireland”.

“If it was cheap and easy to deliver high-speed broadband up every laneway and boreen in this country, then the commercial sector would have done it a long time ago. That hasn’t happened,” she said.

The minister said many businesses are struggling to do business online or even “carry out simple everyday transactions such as using a card machine to make a payment”.

Irish Independent