Satellite firm shows the way to bridge the digital divide

3 Dec 2009

Satellite Broadband Ireland is creating 30 new jobs after winning a contract to support 3 in rolling out broadband under the National Broadband Scheme (NBS). Kevin Ryan is CEO and co-founder.

This must be a very exciting time for you, having secured the contract to roll out broadband under the NBS with 3?

Certainly in these challenging times, as a start-up, it was obviously a great contract for us to win and it just showed confidence in our product and our team here in Mullingar.

Having been a start-up yourself, how do you see the implementation of the NBS helping businesses?

Broadband being enabled in the most rural parts of Ireland will help similar entrepreneurs get online, search the internet and explore projects themselves. It’s bridging this digital divide that exists and opening up the whole knowledge economy by bringing in rural broadband.

So that would be Satellite Broadband Ireland’s role in creating a smart economy for Ireland?

It’s a multi-faceted technology platform that’s going to be required to roll broadband out to the whole country, so you’ve got fibre in the most urban areas, you’ve got wireless in the less rural areas and now you’ve got satellite, which will play a part in the areas where you can’t get any technology. 

Have you made any progress up to this point?

We’re making daily progress. It’s ongoing. We have teams throughout the whole of Ireland installing. The satellite portion is going to play a part in the most rural, further west and southern regions.

In terms of foreseeing where broadband is going, can you tell me a bit more about that?

We created our business model a couple of years ago. We looked at the statistics in Ireland – there was a huge digital divide there. As you can see from the latest OECD ratings, Ireland is catching up on the rest of Europe and we hope to make more inroads.

But as regards broadband, it’s a must-have, especially as we go into 2010, 2011 and 2012. You’re going to have all these other services: analog services, you’ve got your VoIP [voice over internet protocol], you’ve got your IPTV, you’ve got all these other things coming downstream.

It makes you wonder how did we get by just 10 years ago?

The internet wouldn’t have played such a part 10 years ago as it will play a part in the next 10 years. It will be critical to everybody’s role. You’ve got kids growing up now who didn’t know a world before broadband. It’s one and the same: the real world and the online world. Now it’s all going online.

The rate of activity in the telecoms sector is phenomenal.

Since everything is becoming so much faster and immediate, and with more instant access, do you feel that technology has made us, as a society, more impatient?

You could argue that’s the case. With the internet, everybody wants everything instantly. You go online, it’s all in front of you at your fingertips. It’s the same as TV, you’ve got interactive TV coming now – everybody expects everything to happen now. 

With the add-on of different services, people will be able to get things now. With the NBS playing a first step, people in rural Ireland will be able to get these things instantly and avail of all of these services at the same time as urban people.

By Tina Costanza