18 November 2020
By Tom Collins
Working from home will not take off unless Broadband Plan is urgently delivered by government – MEP Kelleher
“The flexibility of being able to work from home will not remain a long term prospect for thousands of people unless the connectivity challenge is tackled head on, and the Government scales up roll out of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) significantly,” said Fianna Fáil MEP, Billy Kelleher.
“The Covid-19 pandemic forced many of us to have to leave the workplace and work from home. Whilst I hope that we can return to a sense of normality as soon as possible, one positive aspect of the pandemic has been the realisation that working from home is very doable. However, for many, the broadband connection remains the biggest obstacle.
“I don’t live in some remote village on the edge of a cliff. Yes, I live on a farm, but I am around four miles from St. Patrick’s Street in the centre of Cork City, and yet my broadband is weak, inconsistent, and often non-existent.
“My neighbours and I battle it out daily and compete for the limited bandwidth in our area to be able to join online calls or even to download documents we need to do our work.
“We have been told by engineers scoping out the area for the NBP that if we are lucky we might be connected to fibre-optic broadband by December 2021 – a full year away.
“Thousands of people who could work, and should be working, from home simply will not be able to. The pandemic has shown us that it is possible to work remotely from home, but unless the broadband infrastructure is available, workers will not have that option.
“Working from home for the sake of it isn’t the priority. For me, it’s about the opportunities in gives workers and their families – a better work life balance, less cars on the roads and potentially stimulating local economies.
“Additionally, the need for broadband isn’t just for people who want to start working from home. Hundreds of thousands of people, including farmers, already work from home and need access to high-speed broadband to engage with, for example, the Department of Agriculture online.
“Students at 3rd and 2nd levels have been really struggling. I know it was incredibly difficult in our own home with two secondary school teenagers trying to work online at the same time.
“I know the NBP is a key priority for the new government, but I firmly believe that it must be rolled out with even greater urgency. There is a social and economic imperative to ensuring that those who can and want to work from home more are facilitated to do so,” concluded Kelleher.