BCPs bring free superfast broadband to rural parishes

Free, superfast, and efficient broadband has at last become a reality in many rural parishes.

More than 50 rural public locations have become broadband connection points (BCPs), which is the forerunner of the National Broadband Plan.

Fittingly, one of those leading the breakthrough is Co Kerry’s first BCP, which has gone live at the Cable Station in Valentia.

The island is again a communications centre, 162 years after the first message was sent via a transatlantic cable from Valentia to Newfoundland.

Another BCP pioneer, at the other end of the country, is Mullinlaghta, the “half-parish” on the Longford-Cavan border which brought pride and hope to many small rural communities back in December 2018, when the local football team, St Columba’s, beat Dublin’s Kilmacud Crokes to become Leinster club champions for the first time in Longford’s GAA history.

Parishes around Ireland are celebrating access to high-speed connectivity which will help make their communities more resilient, more competitive, more digital, and more inclusive.

The BCPs are the first step towards giving every person in Ireland equal access to high-speed broadband, and the opportunities that come with it, through connection to the National Broadband Plan’s high-speed fibre-to-the-home service, which will start in Carrigaline, Co Cork, by the year-end, according to the latest projection by National Broadband Ireland (NBI) Chairman David McCourt.

First, 174 BCPs have been installed by NBI, and nearly 60 of these are now connected to high-speed broadband services.

For example, at the Mullinalaghta Community Centre in Co Longford, there is free wifi in the car park, and the community centre is set up for social distancing for those who wish to hot-desk for work, students who need to complete tasks online, or anybody who needs a desk and a chair to work while using high-speed broadband, all free of charge.

There is even a TV for making Skype, Zoom and Google Meet calls.

Christine Collins, Longford County Council’s Broadband and Digital Officer, said, “BCPs are public locations which have been selected to receive free high-speed broadband connectivity in this, the first year of the NBP.”

“The BCP will provide high-speed broadband access to communities that don’t have it in the amber area of the NBP, in advance of homes and businesses receiving future-proofed broadband to their door.”

As in other communities, bringing the initiative to fruition has taken a lot of hard work and dedication by many people from various groups and organisations, and community buy-in.

“People in Mullinalaghta realised how beneficial this would be to their area and they became very passionate about it.

“We have to sell this and one of the advantages is that people who returned to Longford because of Covid-19 restrictions, etc, are now able to find fast and efficient internet locally, so they can carry out their work from home.