The South West Regional Authority in Ireland has secured funding from ESA to carry out trials that will provide high bandwidth broadband Internet access via satellite to remote areas of the country.
An T naiste Deputy Mary Harney T.D., Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, launched the South West Broadband Initiative on Friday, 17th January 2003 in Cork, S. Ireland. The launch was also attended by Pat Cox, President of the European Parliament, alongside representatives from the South West Regional Authority.
The Initiative, in cooperation with Cork County Council and Kerry County Council, along with project partner organisations will test, demonstrate and evaluate the usability, cost-effectiveness and reliability of local wireless networks in Cahirciveen, and Killarney in Co. Kerry and in Bantry, Co. Cork. These towns are expected to be the first of many towns in the South West to benefit from satellite-fed wireless broadband.
This infrastructure is expected to stimulate and facilitate the development of new economic activities in towns around the region and will also act as a shop window across the rest of Ireland, and be of significant interest around Europe.
Many towns are set to benefit
Mr. Francesco Feliciani, Head of the Applications Section in the ESA Telecom Department said, "Previously, Broadband Internet has been perceived as a fancy technology used by a few futuristic applications, out of reach of most citizens. Today, Broadband connectivity is becoming part of our everyday environment. Disconnection will inevitably become a discriminating factor, hampering economic and social development. This is why the European Space Agency (ESA) welcomes and supports the South West Broadband Initiative, in the frame of the ESA Telecommunications programme line. We think that with this project the SWRA can contribute to proving how satellite communication can bridge the digital divide between rural and urban regions of Europe".
The satellite technology will be utilised for both uplinks and downlinks, delivering government/public services, education, training, business development and medical services using various applications and satellite operators, delivering different bandwidths, as required.
The Regional Authority is especially interested in working with any Irish or European Small or Medium Sized Enterprises, who work in research and development or manufacturing of complimentary technologies. The project offers such companies a test bed and demonstration platform for their product or service.