Broadband scheme will have strict upgrade rules

7 Mar 2008

Responding to concerns that the 1Mbps for every home in Ireland under the National Broadband Scheme will be insufficient, a ComReg expert told that any likely winner will have a weighting attached to their ability to upgrade the connection.

“A typical 1Mbps speed is just a foot in the door,” explained Samuel Ritchie, a spectrum engineer with the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

When the National Broadband Scheme was outlined by Minister Dempsey almost a year ago, 1Mbps seemed sufficient.

However, across the US and Europe minimum speeds now stand at 3Mbps to 4Mbps

“Every company tendering will have to outline an upgrade path and this will be taken into consideration when awarding a winner,” Ritchie continued.

“They will have to demonstrate that within a few years they can move beyond the 1Mbps capability in these areas.”

The National Broadband Scheme aims to cover the 15pc of the Republic of Ireland currently neglected by telecommunications companies.

But it will be a full year between the announcement of the project and the eventual announcement of the operator selected to deploy the overdue services.

Failure to deploy services in these areas could have long-lasting economic consequences in terms of business and job creation but also lost opportunities for executives who want to avoid commuting.

Every moment the Government continues to dither on the issue and pay expensive consultants, the more opportunities are being lost while the world stares down the barrel of a global economic recession.

Four candidates have pre-qualified for the next phase of the procurement process, including BT Communications Ireland Consortium, Eircom, Hutchison 3G Ireland and an BT/Motorla consortium.

However, a decision on the selected operator is unlikely to happen before this June.

By John Kennedy