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‘Broadband for Our Community’: future-proof connectivity and a better future for two Irish villages

The citizens of the Irish villages of Piltown and Fiddown built their own community-owned future-proof ‘fibre to the premises’ (FTTP) network, with support from the EU LEADER programme, and won the ‘Digital Futures’ category of the 2022 EU Rural Inspiration Awards.

The small villages of Piltown and Fiddown, in County Kilkenny, Ireland, are home to 750 households and businesses in an area of 3.4 km2. As explained by Declan Rice, CEO of the Kilkenny LEADER Partnership, in this video interview, the inhabitants of the two communities were struggling to work online, study or operate businesses without good connectivity. Because the villages are not located within the areas covered by Ireland’s National Broadband Plan, they were unlikely to attract interest from commercial operators. As a result, a group of local residents decided to come together to design their own broadband project, providing them with fast and reliable connectivity, while also generating profits that can be reinvested for the development of the villages. 

In 2020, they formed a social enterprise company, Broadband for Our Community (B4OC), and created a financial and implementation plan for their new Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network. B4OC consulted with their fellow residents and businesses, securing a widespread interest for the network’s uptake. The project obtained EU LEADER funding and at the same time leveraged private funds and attracted co-funding from local businesses. 

To run the project, B4OC received support from resident volunteers, who facilitated the installation of the infrastructure, including 480 metres of buried ducting and overhead fibre, as well as building the supporting infrastructure. By early 2022, the first node of around 50 premises was connected to the backhaul node, successfully providing a fast and stable connection. Based on this success, the deployment continued until the 750 homes and businesses were connected. 

Thanks to this project, the relative cost of connectivity services in Piltown and Fiddown is significantly less expensive than the equivalent commercial rates in similar villages. The villages now benefit from high-speed, future-proof connectivity, allowing their citizens to improve their education and healthcare services, and attract new families and businesses. 

Find out more

This interview was filmed as part of the the European Broadband Competence Offices (BCO) Network’s work to raise awareness of EU support for high-speed broadband deployment and share good practices in broadband projects. Discover more interviews in the BCO Network YouTube playlist and more broadband good practices, news and resources in the BCO Network Library.

Reviewed and approved by Lavinia Bianchi