Arklow is on the up and has a very bright future, Mr Frank Curran, Chief Executive, Wicklow County Council, stated at a major announcement by Virgin Media.
He was speaking as Virgin Media announced a landmark figure of 900,000 premises now passed by its broadband network, with 100,000 more to follow. The event was broadcast live from the Municipal District offices by TV3 on IrelandAM.
“I would like to welcome Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Mr Denis Naughten, and of course Virgin Media, to Arklow today and to welcome the announcement that Virgin Media has passed the 900,000 homes mark, as part of their Project Lightning network expansion,” stated Mr Curran.
Broadband, he said, was just as much a necessity as water and electricity for families and businesses in villages, towns and cities right across Ireland. It was a vital component which formed the backbone of the economy and will allow towns in regions across the country to flourish and become local destinations for global businesses.
Mr Curran said broadband was also vital for small rural communities and Wicklow County Council was delighted to be working with the Minister’s Department to ensure that communities are well served, whether they are coloured blue or coloured orange on the National Broadband Plan Map.
He stated: “I know that Virgin Media’s investment of over €4m in Arklow, and €10m in County Wicklow will go a long way towards ensuring that the town, and indeed the county, will now have ultra-fast broadband services which will make it a very attractive place to do business and will help us to achieve our aim of reducing commuting by providing more employment locally.”
This combined with Virgin Media’s free public Wi-Fi on the Main street in Arklow, was to be warmly welcomed. With this infrastructure in place, Arklow, he said, could become a true destination for enterprise, as well as being a town where local businesses can flourish and scale with the right infrastructure in place.
Mr Curran added: “Arklow is on the up, it has experienced high levels of unemployment, due to the closure of major employers over the last 25 years. It has also experienced economic stagnation due to lack of infrastructure, most notably lack of sewerage treatment facilities. All of that is changing, we now have an excellent motorway infrastructure serving Arklow and Irish Water will shortly submit the Environmental Impact Assessment Report to An Bord Pleanala for the Arklow Waste Water Treatment Facility while the Flood Relief Scheme is due to go to Bord Pleanala later this year.”
The Chief Executive said he was delighted that Arklow had been chosen to make today’s important announcement saying: “Arklow as you know is a seafaring town, however you may not be aware that a County Wicklow seafarer, Captain Robert Halpin, played a pioneering role in the field of telecommunications when he laid the transoceanic telegraph cable from Valentia Island to Hearts Content, Newfoundland in 1866. When you consider the challenges faced crossing the Atlantic in the 1800s, it makes laying of fibre around here seem simple.”
He also took the time to congratulate the Arklow Town Team on the great work that they are doing to ensure that Arklow is open for business. “You have achieved a lot in the relatively short time since you were established, including the Flower baskets scheme, the Town Centre Health Check, the Design of Parade Ground and the Ronnie Delaney Commemorative Statue, the design and development of a business hub, Community CCTV and the Shop Front Painting Scheme,” Mr Curran remarked.
Minister Denis Naughten also expressed confidence in Arklow and urged people to make use of the high-speed broadband now available to them.
Mr Tony Hanway, CEO of Virgin Media, stated: “The multi-million euro investment we have made in Arklow and Wicklow town brings Ireland’s fastest broadband network to these two vibrant and growing towns.” He also praised Wicklow County Council for the co-operation and support given to the broadband project adding: “Thank you very much, you have made good things happen.”