Students are having to go to an enterprise centre in West Cork to get proper broadband connections for school classes, a meeting of Cork County Council has been told.
The meeting also heard broadband roll-out had been postponed for more than a year in the Cobh area and people are being forced to go to their workplaces as they don't have adequate coverage at home.
The horror stories were aired by councillors amid frustration that the national broadband roll-out is too slow and needs to be fast-tracked as more people need to work from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Councillors are demanding senior officials from National Broadband Ireland (NBI) address one of their meetings to provide timelines for roll-out in the county.
Fianna Fáil councillor Frank O'Flynn got support from colleagues when he sought the move. He outlined numerous connectivity issues in his own area in North-East Cork, adding that a PhD student he knows couldn't sit an exam because “his broadband went down at the last moment.” “It should be fast-tracked and we should get timelines for its delivery. It's torture for people,” Mr O'Flynn said.
Councillor Deirdre Kelly said she knew of students in Dunmanway who were having to go to the local enterprise centre to get connectivity to online classes.
Fine Gael councillor Sinead Sheppard said she was disappointed to learn that broadband roll-out had been postponed in her municipal district of Cobh.
“The date set for its roll-out was supposed to be Dec 2020, or at the latest in Feb 2021. The NBI website now says the latest (date) has been changed to May 2022,” she said.
Fine Gael councillor Kevin Murphy said it wasn't just broadband which was an issue, pointing out that there was a lack of mobile phone reception in parts of Bandon town centre, let alone in more rural areas.
Bantry-based Independent councillor Danny Collins said rural Ireland needed broadband to survive and couldn't wait the estimated five-seven years it would take to complete the national roll-out. He maintained the government should also employ a lot of smaller companies to help do the job.
Fine Gael councillor Tony O'Shea said he knows a family in Dromahane, near Mallow, with three students trying to study at the same time and "it's proving impossible” because of poor broadband connection.