The Friday Interview: Gerry Fahy, TIF & Vodafone Ireland

8 Sep 2006

The subject of this week’s interview is Gerry Fahy (pictured), chairman of the Telecommunications and Internet Federation (TIF) and strategy director at Vodafone Ireland.

Do you agree that the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) needs more powers?
ComReg have ample powers to date and they need to demonstrate that their powers aren’t sufficient for the purpose of regulating the Irish market if they want more. The courts and appeals panel are there to test their decisions.

Ireland’s broadband problems are well documented. What is the industry doing to ensure progress?
The industry has put together a committee to look at the broadband question and see what we can do to drive broadband harder. There are more broadband choices available today for a large number of people and the numbers accessing it are increasing all the time.

Is it a demand or a supply problem?
It is actually a problem of availability and demand. In terms of demand, people are still accessing dial-up products they see as economically attractive. Also, if you haven’t got a PC then you’re not in the market for broadband. If you have a PC that’s over three years old, chances are it can’t handle broadband.

Two years ago TIF members contributed €15m toward ensuring that every primary and secondary school in the country would have access to broadband. How is this progressing?
There’s no point in building a road to someone’s door if they can’t drive or don’t own a car. We’re helping to build a road to the door in the sense that we’re making sure that teachers are trained and confident in technology. We are trusting that the Government will do the rest of the job in ensuring that the schools have adequate PCs and networking and that the curriculum is built around the use of IT.

Is technology a magic bullet that will deliver a skilled and educated workforce?
Providing broadband to the schools is only 2pc of the solution; it is up to the Department of Education and Science to do the remaining 98pc.

By John Kennedy

Gerry Fahy will be speaking at TIF’s annual conference on 19 October in Dublin’s Mansion House.

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