Famine workhouse in Laois used to extend broadband technology

Leinster Express Reporter

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(l-r) Stephen Dwyer, Dense Air with Oliver and Emse Russell from Dunacleggan, Laois and Leanne Keegan, Dense Air. Picture: Mary Browne

A famine era building in Laois has been married with 21st technology to extend broadband into a rural area.

Seán Canney TD, Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development, launched the  Dense Air technology at the Donaghmore Famine Museum near Rathdowey in south Laois where the initiative was demonstrated.

With the assistance of Laois County Council, Dense Air connected local homes and businesses to Wifi hub in the museum, in an area where reliable broadband connectivity was previously not available. 

A statement said the Dense Air technology provides cost-effective 4G and 5G mobile network extension service, based on small cells that can wirelessly extend existing fibre networks to individual homes, businesses and community centres. 

In addition, it is claimed that these same small cells can be used to extend network coverage for mobile network providers.

The service has delivered speeds of between 30 and 50 mb per second.

Paul Senior, CEO of Dense Air says the last 10 years has seen a proliferation of telecom providers promising superfast connectivity as a means to win new customers. More below picture.

Frazer McKimm, Dense Air General Manager; Stephen Dwyer, Dense Air; Minister of State, Seán Canney; Cllr. Conor Bergin and Antoinette Brennan, Broadband for Rural Ireland, Laois County Council.

“Yet the development of viable solutions, particularly for rural communities, has failed to live up to promise, largely because of the difficulty in getting the ‘last mile’ connected.

“That is where we come in. We utilise existing infrastructure to extend the reach of fibre by deploying wireless small cells for the final part of the journey.

“By tackling these issues head-on we are confident our solutions will re-invigorate communities, creating new opportunities for businesses and communities to grow and thrive.

“Our partnership with Laois County Council is an exciting proof-point for rural communities throughout Ireland. By deploying our technology, we are effectively creating enterprise hubs which benefit the entire community,” he said.

Cllr Conor Bergin deputised for the Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council at the launch. He said the Laois trial highlighted the benefits of anchoring broadband in community centres. He said this would enable the development of enterprise hubs, and the way this infrastructure can be used to connect surrounding homes and businesses.

"This (trial) has already demonstrated tangible benefits and enabled the community – including young families, businesses & farmers to use super broadband from their homes for the first time.

This will improve the connectivity of Donaghmore Famine Museum and Workhouse, and residences in the area with the World Wide Web.

"I am delighted that Donaghmore Workhouse will be more accessible to the public via better internet as the facility here under the stewardship of Trevor Stanley and his team is a credit to all concerned," he said.

Dense Air and Dublin City Council won the 2019 Small Cell Forum award for social impact, ‘Promoting Small Cells For Social/Economic/Environmental Development’.