Government must help push broadband take-up

12 Nov 2003

The Irish Government must take a leaf out of the book of initiatives taken by Invest NI to promote the benefits of broadband in Northern Ireland, a leading infrastructure provider has warned.

“We can see on the TV where Invest NI are doing a great job encouraging businesses to take up broadband services, by running a programme of advertisements talking up the benefits of broadband, and the benefits of broadband to Northern Ireland,” said Charlie Ardagh, director of wireless internet provider Leap Broadband.

Ardagh has written a letter to the Tánaiste Mary Harney TD, the Minister for Communications Dermot Ahern TD and the Minister for State for the Information Society Commission Mary Hanafin TD to adopt a similar stratagem to push the take up of broadband services, particularly amongst businesses.

Ardagh illustrated how Northern Ireland has been allocated millions in state grants to assist the cash-strapped telecoms sector to roll out broadband networks across the country. In the Republic the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources has been allocated €65m so far to construct broadband networks. The North, however, has £16m sterling to do the same.

“The big difference between the two is that in the North they have recognised the need to assist the capital requirements, but also a part in raising awareness amongst the business community,” Ardagh said.

He argued that the State could quickly and cost effectively put the broadband message in front of tens of thousands of business people. “Every accountant, lawyer, self-employed person and business manager would see the message by simply getting a list of benefits and suppliers onto the most-hit State agency websites.”

By John Kennedy