Tough decisions needed on next-generation networks, says TIF chairman

22 Sep 2008

It is vital that Ireland gets its policy and market conditions right for next-generation networks (NGNs) in the years ahead, and this needs clear focus from the industry and policy-makers, the chairman of the Telecommunications and Internet Federation (TIF) said ahead of the organisation’s annual conference.

Gerry Fahy, chairman of TIF said that the telecoms industry was one of the few industries that reduced rather than raised its prices during the Celtic Tiger years, and that the sector is dedicated to ensuring reasonably priced telecoms in the years ahead.

In terms of market regulation and investing in the future, Fahy said there needs to be greater clarity in the marketplace around local loop unbundling (LLU). Ireland’s telecoms industry is at a crossroads between LLU and NGNs, and its operators need clarity for the road ahead.

“Are we going to have an LLU-based broadband market in five years’ time or will it be all around state-of-the-art NGNs or wireless networks? These are three different investment opportunities. We have to be realistic. In five years’ time, if there are no NGNs, then we’ll just have incremental LLU and it will be vital to have an even and fair playing field.”

Fahy said that as the economic storm clouds dominate the horizon, the telecoms industry is the one industry that has managed to continue to invest, even as times were difficult.

“We need the Government and the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) to give us the confidence to continue to invest in difficult times. Let’s get the issues of regulation resolved. Our industry is the only industry consistently reducing prices, even right through the Celtic Tiger era.

“The Government needs to understand that regulatory policy needs to be revised if the industry is to invest confidently in the future.

“It’s important that we will have the telecoms industry we would want in five years’ time,” he concluded. “This means recognising the industry’s importance in boosting the nation’s efficiency and productivity through broadband.”

By John Kennedy

Gerry Fahy will be speaking at the forthcoming TIF annual conference, which takes place this year at Dublin Castle. For more information go to:

Pictured: TIF chairman, Gerry Fahy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years