Broadband

Farm groups welcome roll out of broadband for rural Ireland

An 'essential tool' for agribusiness

Tipperary Star reporter

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Farm groups welcome roll out of broadband for rural Ireland

The roll out of broadband for rural Ireland has been welcomed by farming groups

The roll out of broadband to rural Ireland has been welcomed by two farming organisations.

The Government’s decision to proceed with the National Broadband Plan is an important development for rural Ireland, according to IFA president Joe Healy.

David Leydon head of food and agribusiness at Ifac, the farm financial advisors, said the pro-business decision will make a very significant difference to thousands of food and agribusinesses SME’s in rural Ireland.

Mr Healy said that broadband was an essential tool for the business of farming, accessing health and education, bridging the digital divide and the development of vibrant communities. Farm families and rural businesses require access to a fibre broadband service that made their lives better and lowers the cost of doing business.

“There is only one chance to get this right and given the scale of investment by taxpayers, the focus must be laser like to ensure value for money," he aid.

The IFA president believed that the roll out plans should have a parallel process for starting at the most rural edges of the network to ensure that those most under served received it quickly. The overall completion time frame which had already been extended to seven years must be delivered on.

Meanwhile, Mr Leydon said that in an already very challenging business environment Ifac was finding that Irish food and agribusinesses were in many cases putting digital at the heart of their growth plans. High speed digital connectivity was a prerequisite for growth and this decision by Government makes real sense in that context.

“In terms of digital transformation which many companies are going through, broadband is still an issue in rural Ireland. In research conducted by Amarach on behalf of Ifac last year, only 28% of businesses in the food and agribusiness sector reported sufficient broadband connectivity," said Mr Leydon.

He said that the is was impacting on business growth with online trading slow to get going with only 7% of companies doing a significant level of online trading. Social media, however, was an important marketing communication channel for 62% of businesses. Here, Facebook outperformed all other social platforms in terms of usage and effectiveness.