Broadband @ Wired Wicklow

What is Wired Wicklow?

Simply put, Wired Wicklow was a team of local people that came together to try to improve broadband in Wicklow. It was made up of Matt Wilson (IT expert), Stephen Donnelly, Shane Smyth and myself, Cllr. Jennifer Whitmore. We also have members that wish to remain nameless for operational reasons ūüėČ

What is broadband like in Wicklow?

Current connectivity is patchy, with significant variation between areas. I have had many people come to me with complaints about the speed they are getting over the past number of years. That is why I embarked on this project with the team.

Below is a map showing the estimated speeds across Wicklow, which was developed by the¬†Dept of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.¬† This map is based on what the service providers have told the Dept is available (usually given as ‘up to xMbs) – and not actual speeds.

The areas which are blue are the areas which are currently reported as having high speed broadband. However, we have found that even within these areas, many individuals houses and businesses don’t have good speeds. ¬†The areas in yellow are the ones which are set to receive high speed broadband from the National Broadband Plan.
Broadband in WIcklow

So, what has Wired Wicklow done?

So far, we have focused on 3 main areas:

  1. Broadband for Education
  2. Broadband for Business
  3. Regulatory Reform

Broadband for Education

For the first time ever, we have measured the broadband speed that schools in Wicklow get by installing speed measurement boxes*. This means we now have a minute-by-minute account of actuals speeds.

We focused on primary schools only, as secondary schools in Ireland already get high speed access of 100mbs. And the results are in – and they are very stark. School speeds across Wicklow range between 0.48Mbs to a whopping 18.14Mbs. Compare that with the 100Mbs the Government gave to secondary schools and we can see why technology teaching is in such trouble in primary schools. In fact, in some instances, the school secretary doesn’t have sufficient bandwidth to open web browsers.

20151007 Wicklow Broadband Map_filter

Using this information, we are developing a submission to the Dept of Education to recommend that they upgrade the speeds to primary schools as soon as possible. Without sufficient broadband, using simple tech like iPads and laptops is impractical, time consuming and frustrating for teachers and students.

For more information, check out this article in the Wicklow Voice, 7th October 2015.

Broadband for Business

We plan on rolling out a similar broadband measurement programme to local businesses – so they know what speeds they actually get, when they get them.

Regulatory Reform

Early in 2015, the Dept of Energy, held a consultation on the National Broadband Strategy. We had fun with this one Рpicking through their consultation documents and talking to the frustrated masses in our communities.  And we used this information to build a set of recommendations that we feel would improve the roll-out of broadband. It is all here in our National Broadband Plan Submission The end result is here (and its pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself):

Read the full submission here

* measurement boxes were provided by SamKnows Рa company that works alongside governments, consumers, ISPs, academics and industry to accurately measure fixed and mobile broadband to help improve global internet performance. Check them out here