• Drumhowan Community Centre in Monaghan is 200th BCP to go live

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, today (June 25, 2021) launched Ireland’s 200th Broadband Connection Point (BCP).
The roll-out of BCPs to rural towns and villages is a key commitment under Our Rural Future, the Government’s five year strategy for Rural Ireland.

BCPs are publicly accessible sites in areas that do not have adequate broadband services.

They are located in the likes of community centres, schools, libraries, parish halls, and sports clubs.

BCPs provide onsite use of high-speed broadband by the public and support a range of digitally enabled services, such as remote work and study.

Their roll-out is part of the Connected Communities initiative – a collaboration between the between the Government, National Broadband Ireland (NBI) and Vodafone Ireland.

Minister Humphreys was today joined by Minister of State with responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy Ossian Smyth TD, to mark the launch of the 200th BCP at Drumhowan Community Centre in Monaghan.

Speaking today, Minister Humphreys said:

“I’m delighted to mark this important milestone as we continue the rollout of high speed, good quality broadband across the country.

“We have now installed Broadband Connection Points in every single county, including some of our most remote locations such as our offshore islands.

“Drumhowan in Monaghan is officially number 200 in our BCP network with plans progressing to install a further 100 this year.

“Among the BCPs that are being launched are community centres, sports clubs, libraries and tourist locations.

“These BCPs will help facilitate people in terms of remote working which has become a reality for thousands as a result of COVID-19.

The Minister added:

“Our Rural Future was designed with communities like Drumhowan in mind and drew inspiration from them.

“The policy measures included in Our Rural Future are intended to support exactly this type of initiative and to encourage the Drumhowan approach: supporting workers to stay in their home places; and supporting rural innovation and enterprise.

“BCPs are not just a stop-gap measure while these communities await fibre connections.

“These are long term investments designed to help rural communities realise their full potential.

“In the coming months, my Department will begin pilot projects using BCPs as sites for eHealth facilities, education and training courses, arts and culture projects and, of course, for remote workers to do their jobs.”

Minister Smyth said:

“The National Broadband Plan represents an investment of up to €2.7bn into rural Ireland, of which Broadband Connection Points are an early deliverable. The NBP is a statement of intent: we wish to address regional imbalances and ensure equal opportunities across all communities in Ireland. There are now over 1,000 people directly working to build the high speed fibre network and this is providing much-needed employment whilst at the same time, enhancing the growth potential for the regions.   

“The Broadband Connection Point delivery project has shown the value of collaboration between Government and local authorities in connecting so many rural communities. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this connectivity in Drumhowan and in the other Connected Communities in the future.”

The 200th BCP, Drumhowan Community Centre in Shane, Co Monaghan, has a high-speed broadband connection provided by NBI and super-fast WiFi, provided by Vodafone Ireland. The centre was also recently awarded €12,000 under the Town & Village Renewal Scheme, which has allowed them to purchase computers and other equipment needed to support remote workers and students, and to facilitate online community use.

Both the Town & Village Renewal Scheme and the Connected Communities initiative are policy measures under the new rural development policy, Our Rural Future.

BCPs are among the first deliverables for NBI under the National Broadband Plan contract.

Speaking about NBI’s role and the wider NBP roll-out, David McCourt, Chairman of National Broadband Ireland, commented: 

“It’s a great honour for NBI to launch the 200th Broadband Connection Point at Drumhowan Community Centre, where free public access to high-speed connectivity can have transformational benefits to the local community.

“Paving the way for over 1.1 million people in the State’s Intervention Area to have world-leading Fibre-to-the-Home broadband under the National Broadband Plan, Broadband Connection Points are helping to ensure communities across rural Ireland have essential access to connectivity. These facilities are playing a vital role in helping people to work, learn and socialise.   

“Right now, we have over 1,000 people working tirelessly nationwide, striving to bring fibre directly to over 544,000 premises. Despite the unprecedented challenges that COVID-19 has thrown at the project, our team has surveyed approximately a quarter of a million premises – which is a critical first step in the rollout. We now have 92,000 premises under construction, with 19,000 of these already able to place an order.

“We’re incredibly proud to play our role in revitalising rural communities and making sure each and every person in Ireland has equal access to a limitless future.”

BCPs will benefit from enterprise grade wireless equipment onsite, both indoors and outdoors, allowing for a range of activities. Over time it is expected that each BCP will use the newly provided connectivity to suit the needs of the local community.

Sinéad Bryan, Vodafone Ireland Business Director said:

“The connection of the 200th BCP marks a major milestone for the economic and social future of rural towns and communities. As we continue to contend with the global health pandemic, we must also focus on rebuilding our society and economy to be more resilient, competitive, digital and inclusive. The ongoing rollout of superfast WiFi from Vodafone to communities across Ireland, as part of the Connected Communities initiative, provides an interim opportunity to address the digital divide that exists in Ireland.  In the long-term, digital hubs, with high-speed broadband, will play an important role in supporting businesses and economies to thrive once more and support a rejuvenation of towns and villages.”

BCPs will make an impact at a local and national level, acting as digitally enabled community assets for training, study and enterprise.

Aidan Campbell, Cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council added:

“On behalf of Monaghan County Council, I am delighted to be here to witness the 200th BCP going live here in Drumhowan Community Centre. The installation of high speed broadband and the development of the BCP network is critical in embedding digital skills within all of the small rural communities across the county and across the country.  This access to skills development has also been identified as one of the key focus areas within the County Monaghan Digital Strategy – both for individuals and across the SME sector, and this is being greatly assisted by the rollout of the BCP network by NBI and Vodafone.”