The issue of rural broadband is becoming of ever increasing importance to those who live outside the main cities, but the solution may lie with a company by a peculiar four letter name: SIRO.
Ask a person who lives in a rural area for some examples that the Government prioritises urban areas over provincial ones, and more than likely broadband will be the first point to cross their lips.
And it isn’t like they're annoyed because their episode of Stranger Things buffered twice last night.
The lack of quality broadband can prevent businesses from having a consistent service for payment card terminals, stop them from developing e-commerce services, and even prevent the placement of jobs in the area.
It’s hard to believe that in this day and age the problem still persists – but one company has an exciting plan.
What is SIRO?
SIRO is a broadband infrastructure being jointly developed by Vodafone and the ESB. The simple goal of the project is to develop an extensive, high-speed, fibre-to-the-home network around Ireland. Fibre-to-the-home is often called pure fibre as it doesn't rely on old copper wires for any of the network.
Currently the fastest broadband speeds top out at around 360Mb, whereas SIRO will be able to provide speeds of up to 1,000Mb or 1Gb, which is nearly three times faster.
How is it so fast?
Well the way your broadband probably works now is that there's a fibre optic cable going to a telephone exchange cabinet near your home.
From there the internet has to travel through (often old) telephone copper wires for the last few hundred metres or kilometres to your home. As the signal travels along the copper wire it degrades, which is why broadband providers offer speeds ‘up to (x amount)’ rather than a definite speed. And the further you are from your local cabinet, the weaker the signal.
However SIRO will run a fibre optic cable along the network of ESB poles nationwide and then directly into homes around the country, making copper cabling redundant and retaining the strong signal. In other words you'll get 100% pure fibre broadband straight to your home. This is what allows the network to provide such lightning-fast speeds, with no limit on the number of devices that can connect to the network.
Who has it?
Well you might have seen all those Vodafone ads with Dermot Bannon doing the rounds recently. The service he is advertising is a SIRO-powered Vodafone connection. SIRO had over 150,000 homes and businesses connected last year and has promised to increase that number to over 250,000 in the near term.
If you want to know if your area has access to SIRO you can check right here on bonkers.ie. When you search your address or eircode, you'll be shown a list of the providers and speeds available in your area. If there is a SIRO connection the speed will read 1,000Mb.
Also if you are not in a SIRO area yet, you can sign up here and when it becomes available you will be notified by SIRO.
What benefits will SIRO have?
With whippet-quick internet speeds the internet will open up a world of possibilities for rural Ireland.
Whether it’s simply streaming movies or TV shows in 4k, or giving a video lecture via Skype, or setting up an e-commerce business, high speeds like those provided by SIRO will make it all possible.
These things may not seem like activities you might be considering right now, but future proofing yourself with technology like this will someday see these practices becoming everyday norms in places like Castlebar or Castlerea. Even people in cities who are used to fairly fast speeds already will notice a difference.
What do you think?
Are you currently in an area that has poor internet speeds? Does the prospect of 1Gb broadband sound exciting?
Get in touch and let us know as we love hearing from you. Comment below, tweet us @bonkers_ie or message us on Facebook.