Source: Kerry County Council
Friday, 16 October 2020

Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD and the Mayor of Kerry, Cllr. Patrick Connor-Scarteen have today launched Kerry’s first Connected Communities Hub or ‘Broadband Connection Point’ at the historic Cable Station, in Knightstown, Valentia. The launch took place by webinar having regard to current public health guidance.

The Cable Station is considered the birthplace of global telecommunications, so it is fitting that it is the marquee site for a programme to bring high-speed broadband to nine Kerry communities while the full roll-out of fibre speed broadband to every home and premises in the county under the National Broadband Plan is awaited.

These Connected Community Hubs or BCPs will support a variety of community needs, in particular facilitating remote work and online learning, as well as supporting social connectivity, other innovation and digital creativity.

A panel of guest speakers including Moira Murrell – Chief Executive of Kerry County Council, Peter Hendrick – Chief Executive of National Broadband Ireland and Leonard Hobbs – Director at Trinity Research & Innovation (TCD) joined other speakers and local hub users to talk about the Communications Heritage & Digital future of the Cable Station Hub, about the rollout of BCP’s in Communities across Kerry and how members of the local community can now use the Hub.

Cllr. Patrick Connor-Scarteen, Mayor of Kerry:

“As a Council we have consistently demanded broadband investment in the county to bridge the digital divide and I very much welcome the commencement of works on the National Broadband Plan in the county and in particular – this BCP programme – which is bringing high-speed broadband to nine communities while we await the roll-out of the countywide fibre network to every home & business.

I commend the multiple parties involved in making this happen– Central Govt, Kerry County Council, the Valentia Community, Cable Station stakeholders, NBI and Vodafone. The challenge now is to use this Broadband to its full potential – to connect the local community, to engage in blended work, online learning and build creative digital skills that will make Valentia & Kerry even better socially, culturally and economically.”

Minister Norma Foley T.D.:

“The launch of the Connected Communities initiative is the culmination of a long and complex process which, whilst only one of the first deliverables of the wider National Broadband Plan, is the confirmation to rural communities that long-awaited connectivity is coming. It is not just coming to Community Centres, but I’m delighted that three of Kerry’s rural schools, originally selected in the BCP assessment, will also be getting a high-speed broadband service, in the Black Valley, in Boheeshil (Glencar area) and Coars (Foilmore area) National Schools. 

Brian Looney, Head of Digital & Broadband Officer – Kerry County Council

“While there is a beautiful symmetry in the connectivity of the historic Transatlantic Cable Station to high-speed broadband, today is very much about the present and the future. In this Digital age, Valentia and Kerry are not remote. We are connected, we are creative and we are confident communities of skilled and talented people ready to engage commercially, socially and culturally with the Global Village.

As Broadband Officer I warmly welcome the BCP initiative coming to fruition. Using a water analogy, we are providing a Well of connectivity to the community while the Mains network is being built to every home. Covid-19 has pressed the fast forward on many aspects of our Digital Strategy, but we want all our citizens to be able to thrive in the digital era and connectivity is the key enabler.”

David McCourt – Chairman, NBI

“Today is an extremely proud day for NBI as it marks the first tangible connections for communities in Kerry to receive high speed connectivity as part of the National Broadband Plan.

Broadband Connection Points offer rural communities essential access to free high-speed internet access and they pave the way for the wider rollout of the National Broadband Plan, which is a project of tremendous size and scale. It will deliver world-leading Fibre-to-the-Home broadband directly to over 540,000 homes, farms and businesses.  With today’s launch, we’re excited for communities to start realising the transformational benefits that high-speed connectivity can bring to so many aspects of people’s lives.

Since being awarded the contract for the NBP our team has made excellent progress in our rollout schedule. We’ve surveyed over 100,000 premises nationwide – including the Kingdom – and network build works are currently underway in four counties. Survey work has already been completed in the townlands around Tralee and Killarney, and we expect to commence network builds in these areas shortly.

The first homes [in Carrigaline] will be connectable to a high-speed broadband service by the year-end, and we’re proud to play our role in making sure every person in Ireland has equal access to high-speed broadband, and the opportunities that come with that.”

Anne O’Leary – CEO Vodafone Ireland

“Vodafone is proud to partner with Government and Kerry County Council to officially launch Connected Communities – Broadband Connection Points in the symbolic Cable Station in Valentia. Vodafone is committed to connecting for a better future so everyone in Ireland can embrace and flourish in a digital society. Access to high-speed connectivity is essential to that and will help make communities across the country more resilient, more competitive, more digital and more inclusive. We are delighted to see Kerry’s first broadband connection point go live with Vodafone’s superfast, publicly accessible WiFi, giving this community the opportunity to reduce any digital divide, improve lives, create jobs and stimulate economic growth, locally”.

About the Cable Station

Valentia Cable Station was the eastern terminus of the Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cable and a European Hub of global communications from 1868 to its closure in 1966.

Prior to the laying of the trans-Atlantic cable it would take 10 days or more to send a message by ship from Europe to North America (and a similar time for a reply) and the laying of the undersea cable reduced communication times from weeks to minutes. This heralded the birth of globalisation and global markets,  led to the standardisation of electrical units of measurement and more.

Subsequent innovations and discoveries made at the Cable Station formed the technological base for advances in materials science, duplex (2-way) communication, the discovery of photoconductivity, telex and the internet of today. The world had become a smaller place; times and distances had contracted. Valentia played a central role in these innovations.

The Valentia Cable Station will shortly be conserved to its 19th century glory and adapted under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund as a museum and innovation hub befitting its pioneering role in the communications revolution.

The Valentia Cable Station is now part of the ensemble trans-Atlantic cable sites in Valentia and Heart’s Content, Newfoundland being progressed by Kerry County Council, Valentia Island Development Company, Valentia Foundation and their partners for UNESCO World Heritage inscription. 

About the Broadband Connection Points Programme nationally & in Kerry

The Department of Rural and Community Development, in partnership with local authority Broadband Officers and the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, has identified approx. 300 sites around the country to act as Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) under the Connected Communities Initiative.

BCPs will be located in buildings such as community centres and sports clubs. These communities will be provided with a wireless broadband connection and will in turn make this available to the public onsite.

BCPs are located in some of the most rural communities throughout each local authority area, including islands. BCP sites have been prioritised for connection within the first 12 months of the roll-out of National Broadband Plan (NBP).

It is planned that the BCPs will give local people the opportunity to avail of public online services and accessing government services in addition to encouraging remote working for those affected by the current Covid 19 restrictions.

BCPs will each have their own character and focus. Some will support remote working, others will facilitate study and digital skills training, and many will act as community access hubs with indoors and outdoors Wi-Fi.

BCPs will be provided with a temporary wireless high-speed broadband connection of up to 300mbps which they will keep for three years, or until they are provided with a permanent high-speed broadband connection under the NBP.

National Broadband Ireland (NBI) will act as the Wholesale Service Provider, while Vodafone Ireland will act as the Retail Service Provider.

There are nine BCP locations in Kerry

  • Cable Station, Knightstown, Valentia
  • Chapeltown Community Centre, Valentia
  • Tureencahill Community Centre
  • Kells Bay Railway Station Heritage Centre & Community Space
  • Derrynane House
  • Saint Fiachna’s Church Hall
  • Kielduff Community Centre
  • Cillín Liath (Ionad Pobail na Dromoda)
  • Killeenagh Community Centre (Inch)

Three rural schools in Kerry are also being connected with High Speed services in a parallel initiative:

  • Black Valley National School
  • Boheeshil National School
  • Coars National School