Broadband access in rural Gaeltacht areas!

Deadline: 7/15/2018 11:59:59 PM CET
The challenge owners want to address the lack of broadband access in rural / Gaeltacht areas, where there is fibre infrastructure but where that connection is limited to those homes, business and schools adjacent to the infrastructure, while those living a km or more away cannot access it without incurring significant cost!

Challenge description

In many rural parts of Ireland there is a challenge in accessing good quality broadband services. While fibre infrastructure exists in these regions, many people and small businesses cannot access the broadband infrastructure currently and it appears that this situation may last for some years to come!

This challenge has been raised by a local development authority called Údarás na Gaeltachta, which is the regional authority responsible for the economic, social and cultural development of the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking regions) throughout Ireland. They encounters examples daily of small businesses and community organisations based / located a short distance from a fibre connection, where, in some cases, a fibre broadband connection is literally “passing” at the bottom of their road but for one reason or another, they cannot access the connection (see image of An Fiontarlann as one example). It remains unclear, despite national broadband targets etc., when this issue might be resolved.

This issue obviously has implications for a range of sectors – it impacts negatively on education, social inclusion, etc. It also impacts negatively on efforts to attract potential employees from urban centres to rural areas to take up employment with rural based companies (good broadband in the home is a key requirement for such employees re. relocating their families etc.).

Rolling out broadband to all areas in rural Ireland is obviously a considerable challenge but  the challenge owners would like to attempt to address the deficiency in rural / Gaeltacht areas, where there is fibre infrastructure (relatively locally) but where that connection is limited to those homes, business  and schools adjacent to the infrastructure, while those living a km or more away cannot access it without incurring significant cost!

Target community and location

County Donegal has a population of 161,137 (Census 2011). Donegal saw a population growth of 9.4 per cent in the 2006-2011 period. Over 35 per cent of the population is under 25-years-old. Letterkenny, the largest town in the county, is home to the Letterkenny Institute of Technology and some leading multinational companies from the international services sector.

The Donegal Gaeltacht (challenge location) is mainly in the west of Donegal along the coast and is Irelands second largest Gaeltacht. Its population of 24,744 (Census 2011) represents 24.5% of the total Gaeltacht population and with a geographical area of 1,502km2, represents 26% of total Gaeltacht land area.

Three parishes of Na Rosa, Gaoth Dobhair and Cloich Cheann Fhaola constitute the main centre of population of the region and with just over 16,000 inhabitants, is considered to be the most rurally populated area in Europe.

Competencies

Údarás encourages investment in the Gaeltacht through a range of incentives for new and existing enterprises in the Gaeltacht. They support businesses in developing new markets, technologies, products and strategic alliances through research and development. Gaeltacht companies span a range of commercial sectors, including life sciences, ICT, tourism, fish processing and aquaculture, renewable energy, food, niche manufacturing, audio visual and digital media, arts and crafts.

All of the organisation’s activities have the aim of preserving and promoting Irish language and culture at their core. They also support a range of initiatives collaborating with individuals, community groups and companies which embrace Irish and provide everyday settings in which the language flourish.

Údarás seeks solution providers (with related expertise and experience) who can propose credible, innovative solutions to the issue outlined above. Údarás will consider a pilot study approach to the challenge.

Innovation

An obvious solution to this challenge is the physical delivery (via fibre optic cable installation) of broadband fibre to rural homes, businesses and schools. However, this is a very labour intensive and expensive option. The challenge owners are looking for alternative, cost-effective, innovative solutions beyond current, standard alternatives.

Commitment

Údarás encourages investment in the Gaeltacht through a range of incentives for new and existing enterprises in the Gaeltacht. They support businesses in developing new markets, technologies, products and strategic alliances through research and development. Gaeltacht companies span a range of commercial sectors, including life sciences, ICT, tourism, fish processing and aquaculture, renewable energy, food, niche manufacturing, audio visual and digital media, arts and crafts.

All of the organisation’s activities have the aim of preserving and promoting the Irish language and culture at their core and they also support a range of initiatives and collaborates with individuals, community groups and companies which embrace Irish and provide the everyday settings in which the language flourish.

If selected, solution providers should be willing to match the commitment of Údarás na Gaeltachta in terms of supporting the economic, educational and cultural development of the Donegal Gaeltacht!

Compliance with ethical standards

All solution providers will be expected to act ethically.