The need for an immediate upgrade of broadband in Kerry is emerging as a local election issue. The slow rate of progress in providing the high-speed internet service is impeding investment and job creation, it has been claimed.
The provision of broadband and improvements in mobile phone reception are being further delayed by a rule in the Kerry County Development Plan which bans telecommunications masts within 1km of houses, schools, hospitals and other residential buildings.
Telecommunication companies have been blaming the controversial 1km rule for slow progress in improving the service.
Independent county councillor in the Killarney area, Brendan Cronin said, at the weekend, he was receiving complaints every day, with people telling him they cannot get a proper, high-speed broadband service all across the constituency.
“This is an unacceptable situation in 2014 as many families try to do an amount of work and business online and it is seriously affecting people working from home and small family businesses. The lack of proper broadband is also having a negative impact and is hindering businesses setting up in rural Kerry,” he said.
Mr Cronin said he would be raising the issue at a forthcoming council meeting and would be calling for a meeting between the council and all broadband companies in Kerry.
“I will be looking for an urgent upgrading of broadband service delivery. This is a serious problem,” he said.
Sean de Buitlear, of the South Kerry Development partnership, said the lack of good broadband was a serious impediment to householders and businesspeople.
“Not only does it add to a sense of isolation, it is also a disincentive to people to come into the area to do business,” he said.
“Broadband is now a vital element of everyday life, with so much business being done online, and not having a proper service is a huge disadvantage.”
He said people felt very limited without broadband. Many farmers were now expected to access forms and other data online and being unable to do so was a source of frustration to them.
“Younger people also work largely through Twitter and Facebook and want to put up stuff instantly. They feel very debilitated when they cannot do that.
“Not having broadband can a two-fold effect — it is more difficult to attract people to an area and more difficult to keep them in an area” Mr de Buitlear said.
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