Former Taoiseach lambasts broadband deficit

23 Jun 2004

Ireland is way behind the rest of the developed world in access to broadband communications, former Taoiseach John Bruton said in the Dail today in an attack on the present Government’s inability to boost broadband penetration.

Former Fine Gael leader John Bruton was speaking following a question to the Minister for Communications, Marine and Communications Dermot Ahern TD about the proportion of broadband penetration in Ireland compared with other OECD and EU countries.

Minister Ahern responded by referring to the latest OECD statistics on broadband access, which show Ireland with 0.41 per 100 inhabitants compared with the OECD figure of 6.06. The most recent EU Commission data, from May 2004, indicates a penetration rate of 0.9pc of the population.

Minister Ahern said: “Broadband access in Ireland has been increasing dramatically in recent months, so these figures may not reflect the current level of broadband penetration here. For example, the number of DSL broadband customers in Ireland grew from 1,000 in May 2003 to over 44,000 by May 2004. In addition, the numbers availing of flat rate Internet access grew by 50,000 in the same period.

“In addition to these figures 10,000 customers are now availing of corporate ultra-high-speed broadband, and up to 5,000 have access to broadband by wireless, cable and satellite,” Minister Ahern said.

However, an unimpressed Bruton responded: “The reply to a parliamentary question which I tabled to Minister Dermot Ahern, shows that Ireland is way behind the rest of the developed world in access to broadband communications. Less than half of one percent have access here, as against six percent in the OECD.

“This is a disgraceful indication of the slowness of the Fianna Fáil/PD Government to adapt to the modern world,” Bruton said.

By John Kennedy