Irish Examiner view: Space project plan highlights irony of poor broadband

Irish Examiner view: Space project plan highlights irony of poor broadband

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Picture: AP

If Kerry’s pubs were open it would not be too difficult to get an opinion on whether the possibility that Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink project may use a Kingdom site to test space-based broadband satellites is simple irony or just karma in action. 

That site is in the Black Valley, a not-so-remote location that has the dubious honour of being among the very last places in Ireland to join national electricity and phone grids, a history of delays that would fuel that debate.

As most counties, Kerry’s well below par broadband capacity has been exposed by the pandemic. 

The calls of small, rural businesses struggling with a drip-drip signal have been joined by those working from home. 

There are 26,905 premises in Kerry still waiting, in 2021, for high-speed broadband. 

This equates to 30% of premises, a statistic that may be changed by public investment of €106m in a system the will ultimately be in private ownership.

The connection timescales offered are preposterous. In many locations, the National Broadband Ireland arrival date is measured in years, in others in many, many months.

It is more than difficult to understand how we tolerate this stasis dressed as delivery. 

How embarrassing it might be to watch the relevant politician explain those timescales to Elon Musk. His laughter would be heard the full length of the Black Valley. 

This project must be urgently revisited and expedited. After all, he who pays the piper calls the tune.

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