WDC says National Broadband Scheme will help facilitate economic development in the rural Western Region

Switchover to digital TV will provide further opportunities

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has welcomed the Government’s National Broadband Scheme which will see broadband in all parts of the Western Region by September 2010.

“Broadband brings considerable benefits to rural businesses and communities so this is a positive announcement. People living in rural areas will gain access to online services, and broadband will also mean that more people can run businesses from home and telework. Teleworking, especially in times of economic downturn, can be an attractive option for both business owners and their employees. It can lessen overhead and energy costs for employers and reduce travel costs for employees. It can also benefit the environment with fewer car journeys lowering carbon emissions,” said Dr Patricia O’Hara, Policy Manager at the WDC.

The WDC, which has played a strong role in making the case for broadband in rural areas, stresses that broadband can support the viability and competiveness of existing jobs and remove a major barrier to attracting new investment and jobs to rural areas. “It is essential to positioning Ireland in the knowledge or smart economy,” Dr. O’Hara added.

“Nationally, 39% of people live in rural areas but the figure for the Western Region is much higher at 68%. Up to now the Region has been badly served with less than 20% of households with a broadband connection, so the announcement is particularly significant for the west,” she added.

“Since 2000, the WDC has emphasised the importance of broadband so the announcement is definitely a step in the right direction for the rural economy. Rural enterprises can now target international markets and compete with businesses in urban areas that, up to now, have had a distinct competitive advantage. We would, however, have some concerns at the speeds being offered and we would stress that they must be adequate for business needs, and for next generation networks such as high definition TV and video,” Dr. O’Hara said.

She explained that the full switchover from analogue to digital TV, planned for 2012, could provide a real opportunity to address problems with speeds and quality of service. “The switch to digital TV will mean that 2530% of the radio spectrum capacity in the UHF broadcast band will be freed up. This could potentially be available to provide quality broadband in rural areas. The WDC believes that the switchover is an unprecedented opportunity to bridge the ‘spatial digital divide’ and that high speed rural broadband could be a key positive outcome of the switchover. We were pleased to see reference to this in the Government’s recent economic renewal document Building Ireland’s Smart Economy,” Dr. O’Hara concluded.

Deir an WDC go gcabhróidh Scéim Leathanbhanda Náisiúnta le forbairt eacnamaíoch i Réigiún tuaithe an Iarthair

- Cuirfidh an t-athrú go teilifís dhigiteach deiseanna breise ar fáil

Chuir Coimisiún Forbartha an Iarthair (WDC) fáilte roimh Scéim Leathanbhanda Náisiúnta an Rialtais a chuirfidh leathanbhanda ar fáil i ngach cuid de Réigiún an Iarthair faoi mhí Mheán Fómhair 2010.

“Baineann gnóthais agus pobail tuaithe tairbhe ollmhór as an leathanbhanda, agus mar sin is fógra an-dearfach é seo. Beidh rochtain ag daoine a bhfuil cónaí orthu faoin tuath ar sheirbhísí ar líne, agus ciallóidh leathanbhanda go mbeidh ar chumas tuilleadh daoine gnóthais a reáchtáil óna mbailte agus teile-obair a dhéanamh. Féadann teile-obair a bheith mar rogha mhealltach d’úinéirí gnóthas agus dá bhfostaithe, go háirithe le linn cúluithe geilleagracha. Féadann sé forchostais agus costais fuinnimh a laghdú d’fhostóirí agus costais taistil a laghdú d’fhostaithe. D’fhéadfadh an timpeallacht tairbhe a bhaint as freisin, mar nuair a laghdaítear turasanna gluaisteáin, laghdaítear astuithe carbóin,” a dúirt an Dr Patricia O’Hara, Bainisteoir Beartais leis an WDC.

Bhí ról tábhachtach ag an WDC maidir le leathanbhanda a éileamh do cheantair tuaithe, agus dar leis féadann leathanbhanda tacú le hinmharthanacht agus le hiomaíochas post atá ann, agus fáil réidh le bacainn shuntasach a bhí ann maidir le hinfheistíocht agus poist nua a mhealladh go ceantair tuaithe. “Tá sé ríthábhachtach suíomh Éireann sa gheilleagar eolasbhunaithe nó stuama a chinntiú,” a dúirt an Dr O’Hara freisin.

“Go náisiúnta, cónaíonn 39% den phobal i gceantair tuaithe, ach i Réigiún an Iarthair tá an céatadán i bhfad níos airde ag 68%. Go dtí seo, bhí an scéal go dona sa Réigiún, le níos lú ná 20% de theaghlaigh a raibh nasc leathanbhanda acu, agus mar sin tá an fógra thar a bheith tábhachtach don iarthar,” a dúirt sí freisin.

“Ón mbliain 2000 i leith, leag an WDC béim ar an tábhacht a bhaineann leis an leathanbhanda, agus mar sin, is céim mhór chun tosaigh don gheilleagar tuaithe é an fógra seo, cinnte. Anois féadann fiontair tuaithe a dtáirgí a dhíriú ar mhargaí idirnáisiúnta agus dul in iomaíocht le gnóthais i gceantair uirbeacha, a raibh buntáiste iomaíoch soiléir acu go dtí seo. Is díol imní dúinn na luasanna a chuirfear ar fáil, áfach, agus maímid go gcaithfidh siad a bheith leordhóthanach do riachtanais ghnó agus do líonraí na chéad ghlúine eile, cosúil le teilifís agus físeán ardghléine,” a dúirt an Dr O’Hara.

Mhínigh sí go bhféadfadh an t-athrú iomlán ó theilifís analógach go teilifís dhigiteach, a bheartaítear a dhéanamh in 2012, deis iontach a chur ar fáil aghaidh a thabhairt ar fhadhbanna maidir le luasanna agus cáilíocht na seirbhíse.

“Mar thoradh ar an athrú go teilifís dhigiteach beidh 25-30% de thoilleadh an speictrim raidió sa bhanda craoltóireachta UHF saortha. D’fhéadfadh sin a bheith curtha ar fáil chun leathanbhanda ardchaighdeáin a sholáthar i gceantair tuaithe. Creideann an WDC go dtabharfaidh an t-athrú sin deis gan fasach dúinn fáil réidh leis an ‘deighilt spásúil dhigiteach’ agus go bhféadfadh leathanbhanda ardluais faoin tuath a bheith ina thoradh dearfach príomhúil ar an athrú. Bhí áthas orainn tagairt don fhéidearthacht seo a fheiceáil sa cháipéis athnuachana geilleagair a d’eisigh an Rialtas le deireanas Ag Cur le Geilleagar Stuama na hÉireann,” a dúirt an Dr O’Hara mar fhocal scoir.

WDC says National Broadband Scheme will help facilitate economic development in the rural Western Region

Switchover to digital TV will provide further opportunities

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has welcomed the Government’s National Broadband Scheme which will see broadband in all parts of the Western Region by September 2010.

“Broadband brings considerable benefits to rural businesses and communities so this is a positive announcement. People living in rural areas will gain access to online services, and broadband will also mean that more people can run businesses from home and telework. Teleworking, especially in times of economic downturn, can be an attractive option for both business owners and their employees. It can lessen overhead and energy costs for employers and reduce travel costs for employees. It can also benefit the environment with fewer car journeys lowering carbon emissions,” said Dr Patricia O’Hara, Policy Manager at the WDC.

The WDC, which has played a strong role in making the case for broadband in rural areas, stresses that broadband can support the viability and competiveness of existing jobs and remove a major barrier to attracting new investment and jobs to rural areas. “It is essential to positioning Ireland in the knowledge or smart economy,” Dr. O’Hara added.

“Nationally, 39% of people live in rural areas but the figure for the Western Region is much higher at 68%. Up to now the Region has been badly served with less than 20% of households with a broadband connection, so the announcement is particularly significant for the west,” she added.

“Since 2000, the WDC has emphasised the importance of broadband so the announcement is definitely a step in the right direction for the rural economy. Rural enterprises can now target international markets and compete with businesses in urban areas that, up to now, have had a distinct competitive advantage. We would, however, have some concerns at the speeds being

offered and we would stress that they must be adequate for business needs, and for next generation networks such as high definition TV and video,” Dr. O’Hara said. She explained that the full switchover from analogue to digital TV, planned for 2012, could provide a real opportunity to address problems with speeds and quality of service.

“The switch to digital TV will mean that 2530% of the radio spectrum capacity in the UHF broadcast band will be freed up. This could potentially be available to provide quality broadband in rural areas. The WDC believes that the switchover is an unprecedented opportunity to bridge the ‘spatial digital divide’ and that high speed rural broadband could be a key positive outcome of the switchover. We were pleased to see reference to this in the Government’s recent economic renewal document Building Ireland’s Smart Economy,” Dr. O’Hara concluded.

Ends

For further information please contact:

Dr Pat O’Hara, Policy Manager, WDC 087 686 2772
or Angela Bane, Bane Mullarkey, 087 286 5217