The Department of Communications invited me along to the launch of the National Broadband Scheme yesterday after I emailed them and asked them to invite me. Like the people who nominated themselves for blog awards, I was shocked and surprised at getting invited.
And the scheme? Lovely use of numbers to talk about this major investment. Minister Eamon Ryan talked about how all these new people on broadband will lift the whole economy in these dark days
He talked about his own web company he ran from his bedroom on dialup 10 years ago and I thought that’s exactly the speed some people are getting now and will still get with a mobile dongle at the edge of a broadband scheme area. Working from home is great though, pants being optional is fantastic. Wearing suits all day must be a killer for the Minister.
Anyway, if the vision of a nation of small businesses operating online is to come true then they’ll need something a damned sight better than a 3G dongle. I know some businesses do operate using one but they can basically handle email and very light web surfing. An office with 5-6 computers though? And only allowed one connection? Or do they pay for 1 per computer? 100 euros a month for a connection that a business in Dublin can get for 20 euros.
If you can’t get a 3G signal then they’ll give you a satellite dish and you still pay €19.99 per month for about 1Mbps down and a 15 Gig download limit. 8% of those under the scheme will get this and I’m sure given the cost of it, Three and the Department will do their best to give you a dongle when a satellite dish might be better.
This is the reality of rural life and broadband. Let’s see what Dave’s story is like in a year or two years or three years.
And for those in areas that the Department said are already covered? Yesterday the tone was polite but they were still saying “tough shit”. The Department said that they can’t subsidise people where there are line of sight issues with Irish Broadband or Digiweb or line failure issues with eircom. These apparently are technical issues and are up to the providers to sort out. The Department said the EU won’t let them subsidise, which again I’d argue is not correct. Once a statement from said ISP says they can’t supply to that person, then they can be subsidised. That’s what I read in the docs the EU sent to the Department.
So, for those who will still be shafted, one way of getting broadband is to find a friend who is in an NBS area and will be getting a dish not a dongle. Then have this friend either order another connection for the barn next door or get your friend’s neighbours not interested in a broadband connection to order one. A satellite installer will happily move it and reinstall it to your place.
Read more about NBS here.