Businesses cannot survive in rural towns without the global reach the Internet gives them, according to Laois TD and Minister Charlie Flanagan.
Minister Flanagan was speaking at the offical launch of the SIRO high speed broad band project for Portlaoise.
SIRO says its 100% fibre-optic network is currently under construction in Portlaoise and will give connectivity of 1,000Mbps which is 50 times faster than the average broadband in Laois (20Mbps) and services will be made available in January 2017.
The project was launched by Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Flanagan.
“For the people I represent in Portlaoise and throughout the wider constituency broadband is necessary for so many aspects of day to day life – for education and research, for simple things like renewing insurance, booking flights, applying for a driving test, for keeping in touch with friends and family.
“Above all, good broadband access is essential if rural areas in the county are to be thriving communities rather than commuter ghost towns.
“There are a number of small businesses, particularly artisan enterprises, in Laois who are creating employment in the area and are dependent on the fast internet speeds for the success of their businesses. Businesses simply cannot survive in rural towns without the global reach the Internet gives them,” he said
Laois County Council's Chief Executive, John Mulholland said the project was critical for Portlaoise's future.
“We see access to a high speed quality broadband network as fundamental to achieving our goals for a sustainable urban living model and to stimulate economic growth in regional towns such as Portlaoise,” said Mr Mulholland.
Sean Atkinson, SIRO CEO, said Portlaoise's broadband services would soon be three times better than the best available in Dublin and fifty times better the average service currently available in Laois.
“This is an important development for the town, supporting economic and social development and future-proofing Portlaoise’s internet infrastructure for decades to come,” he said.
Using the existing ESB network, SIRO is delivered by fibre optic cables. This technology, known as Fibre-to-the-Building, has no slow copper connections.