Bandwidth: the next broadband hurdle

11 Feb 2008

With broadband on the verge of being accessible to everyone in Ireland, providers need to concentrate on upping the speeds if the Irish workforce is to benefit from the infrastructure, it has been claimed.

For effective home working and intensive broadband use the current speeds offered by the telcos are not sufficient, said John McCabe, managing director, Damovo.

“The reality is it’s not sufficient. It can work if you’re using it for two or three terminals but if you have 50 people in your company sending out emails with heavy files, it’s going to slow the whole network down a lot,” he said.

“If every employee is linking into somebody outside of the office over 4Mbps or 6Mbps pipes, the whole network for the organisation is going to be extremely slow.”

Upping the speeds available to businesses and consumers will be critical in optimising the use of the latest bandwidth-heavy Web 2.0 applications.

“For video collaboration increased bandwidth is important. Eircom and BT have announced they are going to have 8Mbps available. That is a welcome improvement but it is still not sufficient. Bigger bandwidth pipes are required for things like videoconferencing to take off.

“In Belfast they’re trialling 24Mbps. In Japan they have 40-50Mbps. We’re still talking about 2-3Mbps in the Republic. Bandwidth is key to allowing these types of technology to really take off.”

“The home-working trend will continue in 2008 but the issue in Ireland will be broadband bandwidth,” commented Richie Howard, director, technology, media and telecommunications industry group, Deloitte.

“The question is will we be able to get sufficient bandwidth in the home to enable efficient teleworking? If you’re working in the technology or finance sectors, for example, you will have large files to send and receive. You want those downloaded straight away.

“From an Irish perspective the immediate issue will be whether we’ll have the infrastructure to actually enable that type of working.”

McCabe predicts more pressure will be exerted on telcos for increased bandwidth at reasonable prices as the demand for remote working grows. “Remote working will become more mainstream this year. The more time spent commuting will drive that, as will the potential offered by unified communications technology.

“I would like to think by the end of the year broadband speeds will be up to scratch but I’m not confident. We don’t have enough fibre going into offices in Ireland. However, we should absolutely be aiming for 24Mbps broadband by early next year. More and more pressure will be brought to bear. It will be interesting to see if there’s any government involvement in trying to push that through.”

By Niall Byrne