Telecoms industry body TIF said it welcomes the government’s ‘Infrastructure Investment Priorities 2010-2016’, and particularly the commitment to high-speed universal broadband provision. The plan said that NGN investment must be built by the private sector.
Outlining Ireland’s infrastructure priorities until 2016 earlier this week, the Government said the main investment in fibre-optic networks will be via the private sector. Enabling civil works – which account for 80pc of all investment – will be a way of achieving economies of scale.
In its €40bn capital expenditure review, which focused heavily on transport and science, technology and innovation, the Government revealed that the main investment in fibre-optic networks will be made via the private sector through competing fixed line, cable, wireless, mobile, satellite, WiMax and other technologies.
Because 80pc of the cost of next-generation network (NGN) installation is accounted for by ‘civil works’, the Government said that by providing access to all state infrastructural works, operators can achieve significant economies of scale.
“Investment decisions in the current climate are not easy,” the capital spending review stated. “What is clear is that continued investment in next-generation access networks is an imperative if Ireland is to realise its potential as a modern, digitally-enabled economy and society.
“The Government is encouraging telecommunications companies to explore a collaborative approach to investment, which is similar to the sharing of network infrastructure already under way. The Government will continue to engage with industry and the regulator to promote the right environment for the necessary investment in NGNs,” the review said.
TIF director Tommy McCabe said: "The government’s commitment to ensuring universal broadband access through the National Broadband Scheme and the Rural Broadband Scheme complements the very significant investment that is being made by the private sector.
“The commitment to ongoing engagement with industry and the regulator, to ensure the necessary conditions for investment in next-generation networks is also welcome."
TIF believes, as outlined in the recent report ‘Building a Next Generation Access Network for Ireland’, that clear guidance on spectrum allocation, incorporating reasonable spectrum fees, the reduction in civil costs and clarity and consistency in regulation, is required for the rollout of a next-generation network that will serve needs of the country.
“The telecoms industry contributes €4bn to the Irish economy and employs over 15,000 people. This does not include the other ICT and non-ICT industries that rely on a modern telecoms infrastructure to survive. This infrastructure is central to the development of an enterprise-driven economy, which fosters innovation and job creation,” McCabe concluded.
The subject of NGNs, who will pay for them and how they will be deployed will be explored at the upcoming 17th annual TIF Conference at Dublin Castle on 12 October.