Friday 19 January 2018

Skytel unhappy with Council mast decision

By Maria Pepper

Garret McElroy, general manager, Skytel Networks.
Garret McElroy, general manager, Skytel Networks.

A company refused planning permission by the County Council to instal a mast on Forth Mountain said it is doing its best to create local employment and roll out high speed broadband internet to rural Wexford.

Skytel Networks Ireland Ltd based in Drinagh which has lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanala said it was disappointed by the Council decision. Local authority planners turned down the proposal on the grounds that the mast would damage the visual amenity of the area and said the company should share an existing mast with another operator.

General Manager Garret McElroy said after news of the Council refusal broke last week, the company received calls from customers concerned that they would not be able to get broadband or would have an existing service affected.

'Overall, we believe the Wexford public is totally behind us on this,' he said. 'There were no local objections to our slimline mast application,' said Mr. McElroy.

He said Skytel which operates from Wexford Enterprise Centre employs 11 people and delivers broadband services to over 4,000 residential and business customers in rural Wexford.

'The company is well known as Rocketbroadband and delivers high speed broadband that exceeds the 30 Mbit speed as required by the National Broadband Plan (NBP) which is an initiative by the Government to provide every house in Ireland with a minimum of 30 Mbits broadband speed by 2020. We have achieved those target speeds,' he said.

The Skytel manager said the company is very aware of the sensitivity of erecting new infrastructure in Wexford and is proposing the smallest slimline mast possible which is very small in comparison with huge masts like those owned by Towercom, 02 and the HSE on Forth Mountain. The Towercom mast is 42m high.

'Skytel also paid for a third-party environmental impact study which showed that there would be no impact on the environment,' he said.

'We need a 24.4 m slimline mast on Forth Mountain to roll out our affordable and fast broadband to another 800 homes in south Wexford that have been seriously neglected with little or no broadband,' he pointed out.

Mr. McElroy said Skytel does not believe the proposed mast would injure the visual amenity of the area. The company investigated 'co-location' or using other masts such as those owned by the Dublin-based Towercom but the cost was prohibitive so it had no choice but to seek to build its own smaller mast.

'There are no local broadband operators using Towercom masts for these high-cost reasons,' he said.

'We were disappointed by Wexford County Council's decision to refuse our application as we feel it is good for local jobs and will provide affordable high speed broadband to people all over Wexford.'

'We believe that our existing customers and local Wexford people support our plans to invest in Wexford. This was evident by the fac that there were no objections from local residents to our application, only objections from two large Dublin mast operators Towercom and Hibernian.'

Mr. McElroy said his company is engaged in sponsorhsip of local GAA, soccer and tennis clubs.

An Bord Pleanala is due to give a ruling on the appeal by December 19.

Wexford People

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