The target to have 700,000 broadband users in Ireland by the end of 2007 set down by Communications Minister Noel Dempsey can be achieved, a senior Eircom executive said last night.
Reaching the target will represent a penetration level of 18pc.
Addressing the Innovation Through Technology Awards for the public sector last night, the managing director of Eircom Retail Cathal Magee said that achieving an 18pc penetration per head of population by the end of 2007 will place Ireland at or near the EU average penetration at that stage.
Most recent EU figures placed broadband penetration levels in Ireland at 10.3pc, below the EU average of 15.7pc.
However, Magee said that take-up rates for broadband in Ireland have almost doubled with up to 4,500 customers signing up each week for broadband.
“The Minister’s target of 700,000 broadband customers by the end of 2007 is achievable if we can sustain the current momentum in the market over the next nine months,” said Magee.
“That is our goal,” he continued. “The company’s best estimate for a real-time figure of broadband penetration currently puts Ireland at 14pc, up from 10.3pc and quickly approaching the European average.
“700,000 Broadband customers in Ireland by the end of 2007 will translate into a penetration level of 18pc by the end of 2007, at or near the EU average penetration at that stage,” Magee said.
Magee pointed to plans unveiled in recent weeks to broadband enable an additional 319 communities around the country, following on from an original decision in October to broadband enable an additional 100 communities this year.
“Added to the work already completed on broadband it will result in more than 1.6 million (96pc) of working telephone lines connected to a broadband-enabled exchange. Together with the upcoming Government Tender, all remaining telephone exchanges should be broadband enabled within the coming few years,” said Magee.
Magee said that Eircom’s capital investment programme will extend to over €1bn over the next three years as well as a plan to invest a further €60m in its next-generation network (NGN) that will enable Eircom to offer much greater bandwidth throughout all of the regions around Ireland.
“This investment will expand our current business IP node footprint from 50 to over 240, and it will also facilitate significantly quicker provision of circuits to our customers,” Magee said.
By John Kennedy