Broad­band sham­bles is keep­ing ru­ral

Irish Independent - Farming - - FINANCE - DARRAGH McCULLOUGH

SO we’ve mor­phed from a Celtic Tiger into a Celtic Phoenix. That’s the best way the economists are able to la­bel the fact that we’ve more dis­pos­able in­come per house­hold than at the height of the boom, and that there’s as many peo­ple back in em­ploy­ment now as there ever was.

In­deed, I’m start­ing to get calls from em­ploy­ers that have more than a pass­ing re­sem­blance to ones I fielded a decade ago. Staff ‘can’t be got’ and we should open the flood­gates to China, Thai­land and be­yond.

At home here I’ve still got a crew of Ro­ma­nian work­ers who are now into top gear in the daf­fodil pick­ing sea­son with up to 200,000 stems be­ing in­di­vid­u­ally hand-picked per day. It’s what some might term ‘hardy’ work bent over for hours pick­ing flow­ers in all weath­ers in Jan­uary.

I’m lucky to have a good crew and it leaves me in­clined to be­lieve that there are plenty of peo­ple more than will­ing to work hard for the min­i­mum wage still within the bor­ders of the EU.

A weekly cheque for €400 might not seem like a lot of money for Ir­ish peo­ple, but I’m told that it is still the equiv­a­lent of a month’s salary for my crew if they were back home in Ro­ma­nia.

But there are all kinds of glar­ing dis­par­i­ties in our ‘phoenix’ econ­omy.

If I don’t hit the road by 6.30am, my jour­ney time into the city cen­tre dou­bles with the vol­ume of traf­fic queu­ing along the M1 and ev­ery other ma­jor road artery head­ing into the cap­i­tal.

But out in the coun­try ru­ral towns and vil­lages are as quiet as ever. On my days out film­ing for Ear to the Ground I see plenty of boarded-up shops, closed pubs and aban­doned com­mer­cial sites.

Even though I’m only 40km north of O’Con­nell Street in Dublin city cen­tre, I also ex­pe­ri­ence first­hand some of the hand­i­caps that are keep­ing the ru­ral econ­omy on the hind teat.

The de­ba­cle that it is the roll­out of the na­tional broad­band net­work is a case in point.

Ear­lier this month I got an email from my in­ter­net provider to in­form me that we had breached the 60Gb limit on the don­gle in the house by 20Gb and a sur­charge of €933 would be ap­plied on top of my reg­u­lar monthly bill of €35.

I was gob­s­macked. Cue some pretty curt ex­changes with the two ladies in my life — my wife and her 18-year-old Kiwi niece that has moved in with us for a cou­ple of months.

This wasn’t the first time that I had been hit with a data sur­charge. Be­cause some lazy engi­neer over­looked the cul-de-sac that I live on, the broad­band speed avail­able through the land­line is ac­tu­ally lower than that avail­able through the don­gle.

So we are to­tally re­liant on don­gles for in­ter­net cover­age.

For the last num­ber of years I have con­tin­u­ously cranked up the monthly al­lowance and, of course, con­se­quent pay­ment to cover the in­creas­ing amount of daily liv­ing that has drifted on­line.

I thought we had learned all the pit­falls: that you can opt for lower qual­ity stream­ing on Net­flix that doesn’t use as much data; that ev­ery hour of stream­ing video is about 1G

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.