Radical shift in Government’s broadband policy urged

16 Sep 2010

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Ireland dropping out of the global top 50 ranking for download speed demonstrates clearly we are being left behind on the smart economy front, said Labour MEP Alan Kelly, who added that current policies are keeping the country in the digital dark ages.

“The Government’s policy on broadband will leave us jobless and stuck in the digital dark age, unless it improves radically. Ireland dropping out of the global top 50 ranking for download speed demonstrates clearly we are being left behind on the smart economy front,” warned Kelly.

“Prior to the most recent survey from Ireland Offline, our broadband speeds were as much as 80 times behind Japan and India. Our broadband is only good enough for Bebo – not for big business and we are losing investment as a result.

“If the Government is trying to build a smart economy, then a high-quality broadband system has to be the foundation to it.

Kelly warned that the country could be entering an era where many goods will never be manufactured or packaged in a traditional way. The manufacturing of the future will be carried out in an online setting but it won’t happen in Ireland unless we get our act together, he warned.

“It is as important as electricity was to Ireland in the Thirties.

“It is also completely disgraceful that the cost of broadband in rural Ireland is so much more than in urban areas. This is holding back rural Ireland as a place of business and it is disgraceful.

"The Government claim to be interested in protecting rural communities, but forcing people to fork out extravagant sums for broadband goes against the principal of universal access and fairness.

“Rural dwellers arguably need it more, because location matters less in business because of broadband. The same online product can be manufactured in Ballydehob or Bangkok if the broadband system is good enough.”

Broadband as a citizen’s right

He went on: “I just don’t think the Government really get it. The basis of a future smart economy and job creation is high-speed broadband.”

Kelly said that in the European Parliament, he and his colleagues have been pushing for the provision of high speed broadband to be made a citizen’s right.

“They have done this in Finland and unless it is done in Ireland, we will be seriously left behind on the jobs front and on the smart economy the Government says it is trying to build.”

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com