Lack of reliable wi-fi service forces workers into Bandon church car park amid lockdown

Three professionals from a small town in West Cork have taken to working in the car park of St Patrick's Church in Bandon during lockdown, because of frustrations surrounding unreliable internet coverage.
Lack of reliable wi-fi service forces workers into Bandon church car park amid lockdown
An aerial view of Bandon: residents of the town of Gaggin have taken to a church car park for internet access and work amid lockdown restrictions.

Three professionals from a small town in West Cork have taken to working in the car park of St Patrick's Church in Bandon during lockdown, because of frustrations surrounding unreliable internet coverage.

Around 100 houses in nearby Gaggin have average download speeds of 0.2mbps and an upload speed of 0.01mbps. The town is on a list of villages and towns around Ireland due to get high speed internet hubs whilst residents await the arrival of the National Broadband Plan.

Tony Cullinane from Gaggin normally works from home and travels for his sales job. However, with lockdown he is working from home all the time. In an interview with Cork's 96FM he says he is "driven to distraction" by the poor broadband.

"The broadband at home is really poor. To do team calls or any downloading of big files I have to come in to the church yard. I could be in here for an hour or I could be here for four hours depending on what is happening each day. It is painful. You are sitting in the one place for a really long period of time. It is uncomfortable on hot days. We had some fantastic weather which is great but when you are sitting in a car and its really hot weather it is difficult.

We had training at work a few weeks ago. I had to leave the (online) training then because my battery went in the car. I had to go home and charge the laptop and get back in the car again.

I would understand if we were twenty or thirty miles from a town but we are only a few kilometres from Bandon. We are not up the side of a mountain. In this day and age it is unacceptable."

Maeve O'Sullivan Kennedy usually works full time at a financial services office in Cork. She was advised to work from home from the 7th of March and will remain out of the office until September 1st.

"I have been in the middle of a client call with work (at home) and the internet just goes. It is horrible. You don't have space (in the car). You don't have a place to charge in my car. There are no toilet facilities in my car obviously. It's really draining. On the hot days my phone has switched off in the car because of the over heating. It is not good. It is not sustainable. We are under a constant state of stress. We need to get this sorted. In this day and age internet is a basic need."

James O'Regan, who is an IT consultant, says working from the car has been a nightmare for the trio from Gaggin.

"The internet was never great (in Gaggin).

"Earlier in the morning is better. When it comes to nine or ten o clock forget about it. When you do come to the car there is a relief that you can do a day's work. But overall it is demoralising. Politicians need to take a serious look at this. It is all going to be remote working and online for schooling. That is the future."

A spokesperson for the Department of Communications said: “Cork County Council is working to facilitate the residents of Gaggin as soon as possible.

“The Department continues to explore the feasibility of accelerating aspects of the roll out and will continue to do so over the coming months.

“The National Broadband Plan does not propose a 4G solution, it is a fibre connection to the home.”

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