BY SEÁN P. FEENY
A WELL-KNOWN Donegal businessman and campaigner has threatened to call for a boycott of Vodafone if the network provider does not improve its services in the west of the county.
Arranmore man Jerry Early has said people in West Donegal are suffering as a whole because the main wireless internet provider in the area has failed to upgrade its receivers in 20 years.
The receiver in Dungloe services Arranmore, while the receiver situated on the actual island, services the whole of West Donegal. Figures provided to Mr Early this week from a source showed that the download and upload speed of the receiver in Lettermacaward was nearly 25 times as fast, compared to the receiver which provides Arranmore with wireless internet. He said: “The service in Leitir today (Wednesday) was 24.29mb per second download and 23.21mb per second download. On Arranmore, at the exact same time, it was 1.2mb per second download and 1.1mb per second download.”
While Eircom Wholesale confirmed recently it will increase bandwidth capability to the exchanges in certain areas in the Donegal Gaeltacht, Mr Early said the company’s roll-out is of no benefit to the island as it does not have the infrastructure in place. Mr Early said that the broadband issue has been brought up with local politicians on numerous occasions, but with no outcome. “The reality is that next thing they will campaign on this and make it part of their manifesto and then all of a sudden, it will get done.
“A brother of mine who lives in America, but spends a lot of time at home, had to travel to Letterkenny three times while he was home recently to ensure that he could successfully conduct his business via Skype, that’s just ridiculous. It has taken people on the island, like myself, up to six hours to send a simple e-mail. Why should we pay through the nose for smart phones and end up with dumb phones because we don’t get the proper coverage.”
Mr Early said if the company upgrades its masts in Dungloe and Arranmore, West Donegal could easily have top 4G wireless internet. “This could be done by Vodafone in a matter of weeks. Why should I be paying my subscription to Vodafone and not get the service I deserve and not be told to revert back to 2G, which is twenty years old. The people of West Donegal have to wake up and smell the coffee, this is not just Arranmore. The whole west is losing jobs on a daily basis because the service in the area is not sufficient enough.
“There are people who want to live and work here and the ex-pats who want to invest and create jobs here. None of them can do this due to the lack of proper service. Unless Vodafone come out and give an indication on whether or not this will be done, I will call on the people of West Donegal to boycott all Vodafone products until they upgrade and we have better telecommunications,” he said.