The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey TD yesterday admitted that there is a serious broadband demand problem in Ireland in terms of citizens and businesses realising the productivity and cost benefits broadband can bring.
Dempsey was addressing yesterday’s Chambers Ireland launch of Vodafone’s new flat-rate of €49 for 3G broadband.
He told delegates that he was confident that his target of 400,000 broadband users connected by the end of 2006 would be achieved. There are approximately 330,000 broadband subscribers in the Republic of Ireland at present.
However, he acknowledged that a significant problem in growing the numbers of citizens and businesses using broadband has been people actually demanding broadband services.
“I haven’t talked so much about demand. Demand is not great at the moment and we need to stimulate demand.
“We will need to bring home to people the benefits of broadband and what it can achieve.
“There is a huge audience out there that don’t know or understand the benefits of what broadband can do for their business,” Dempsey said.
“We need to get that message across and stimulate demand and help to expand the number of people using broadband.
“Broadband reduces costs generally and is an opportunity for business to access world markets from any location,” Minister Dempsey said.
Commenting on Vodafone’s flat-rate charge for 3G broadband services, he said: “Vodafone has opened a new chapter for telecoms in Ireland.”
Sean Murphy, director of public policy at Chambers Ireland, told delegates that use of information and communications technology in Ireland range from “middling to good to poor”.
He pointed to a recent Chambers Ireland e-business survey in which 56pc of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Ireland claimed they had broadband. “However, when questioned further it transpired that only 29pc of SMEs had broadband and that many respondents were using ISDN and not a broadband connection.”
By John Kennedy