European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan today announced that SIRO, the ESB-Vodafone joint venture, has selected Ratheniska, Co. Laois – home of the National Ploughing Championships – as the location for a rural broadband pilot programme. SIRO has chosen Ratheniska as a pilot village to evaluate the potential for rolling out the SIRO network to rural areas in a future phase. 17 premises have been connected to the SIRO network, including 14 homes, Ratheniska National School, the Community Hall and Park Ratheniska GAA club.
Commenting on the announcement, Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of independent price comparison and website Switcher.ie said: “We welcome this announcement as a hugely significant and positive development for businesses and consumers in Ratheniska. Access to SIRO’s one gigabit network means that Ratheniska’s broadband infrastructure will be four times faster than Dublin and that will be transformative for the Ratheniska community.
“It is however, important to remember that this is one pilot, in one rural community. It’s vital that investment in broadband infrastructure is targeted at bringing isolated rural areas up to speed as fast as possible and tackling broadband black spots. Those who are isolated geographically are often the ones who would benefit most from Internet access. In order to effectively bridge the digital divide that exists in Ireland access needs to be universal, fast and keenly priced. High speed broadband roll out is not happening fast enough and we would hope this development will trigger other network operators to respond.”
Switcher.ie launched in January 2013, with the aim of offering consumers free, independent and impartial price comparison and switching services. Switcher aims to make it easier for Irish households to compare prices, save money on their regular bills, get the best deals on offer and make their hard-earned money go that bit further.
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