Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Fine Gael TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Heather Humphreys TD, has unveiled a new 1 Gigabit fibre broadband service at the Centre for Social Gain at Castlemanor Community Centre in Cavan as part of celebrations for Positive Age’s 30th anniversary of delivering social inclusion projects for older people in Cavan and Monaghan.

To mark the launch of the new 1 Gigabit fibre-optic broadband connection, provided by Vodafone and powered by SIRO’s 100% fibre-optic network, some attendees at the special event recalled their experiences as part of a ceremony dubbed ‘From Candle Light to Fibre Optic Light.’

Positive Age’s members, all in their late eighties, recalled a time when they wrote letters to family around the word by candlelight which took weeks to arrive, where now, through their computer classes, they can send messages and photos instantly and talk to their relatives live anywhere in the world.

As part of Vodafone and SIRO’s initiative, the center will now have access to what is regarded as the international gold standard for broadband globally with a 100% fibre-optic broadband connection, which is three times as powerful as the best service in Dublin and 10 times more powerful than the fastest average internet speed in Ireland, enabling the organisation to broaden the services it offers its members.

Positive Age, which operates the Centre for Social Gain, runs a series of initiatives for older people in Cavan and Monaghan including technology training, arts and drama projects and educational trips abroad, with the aim of promoting a positive attitude to ageing and combating isolation of older people in the area.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD said: “I am delighted to launch the new Gigabit broadband services at Positive Age’s Centre for Social Gain and to hear some of their members’ stories, which illustrate how the internet is changing lives in Cavan. This project is a fantastic example of how we can help connect different generations both at home and abroad, as well as being testament to the Government’s policy to improve regional broadband connectivity. The initiative also demonstrates how the not for profit sector and enterprise can collaborate for the good of society.”

Brian Daly, Positive Age, commented: “We are excited to receive this service from Vodafone and SIRO, as it will help power the Centre for Social Gain’s potential to provide a vital social outlet and a hub for lifelong learning in Cavan and Monaghan. Broadband is a key tool for helping to promote social inclusion and you only have to hear the stories from our members as to how communication has changed over their lifetime. The ability to see a grandchild on the other side of the world on a video call is literally lifechanging, so we are very grateful for the support from both companies.”

Stephen O’Connor, SIRO Director of Corporate Affairs, also said: “SIRO is helping to bridge the so called “Digital Divide” between Dublin and regional towns like Cavan. There is another divide that we are very conscious of, and that is the differing levels of computer literacy and digital skills in Ireland particularly across the generations. SIRO ran its initial technical trials in Cavan in 2015 and the whole town now has access to the same level of broadband connectivity as cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo. This partnership with Positive Age helps to make sure as many older people as possible get to experience SIRO and enjoy the benefits of a connected world.”

Debbie Ward, Regional Sales Manager at Vodafone Ireland, added: “Isolation and loneliness unfortunately still affects far too many of our elderly throughout Ireland today. I’m therefore delighted to support the brilliant work Positive Age is doing to combat the most pressing issue facing older people in our country as it sets out to bring improved quality of life to this community. Working together, we need to do everything we can to protect older people today and this connection now means that they can reach out to loved ones and friends across Ireland, and the rest of the world, and to stay connected.”

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