Constructive criticism of Irish broadband woes

27 Feb 2008

The unreliability of Ireland’s broadband services is threatening to delay IT innovation in the construction sector, the head of training and development of the Construction Industry Federation has said.

Noelle O’Connell, speaking in advance of the Construct IT Conference 2008, which takes place tomorrow in Newlands Cross, said the availability, reliability and speed of broadband services are an increasing problem for Irish construction companies.

“In terms of products and processes the construction industry has shown itself to be one of the most innovative sectors in the Irish economy. However, IT problems surrounding the availability of reliable, high-speed broadband services, particularly in certain parts of the country, continue to frustrate innovations,” she said.

O’Connell said the problem impacts every sector of the industry.

“For instance, planning authorities increasingly make information about development plans, development control standards and other aspects of the planning process available online. However, difficulties in accessing this information, particularly in terms of downloading plans and strategies often containing very detailed maps and drawings and completing applications online, means time is lost in queues at planning counters around the country. This is a very straight-forward example of the inefficiencies arising from broadband problems, yet it illustrates the sorts of issues facing the sector.

“Moving the tender process online is another innovation that is not possible without first-class broadband infrastructure, particularly given the level of detail and technical supporting documentation associated with tenders for even the smallest projects. The same is true in other areas of construction.”

O’Connell acknowledged that companies in large urban areas usually did not have problems with broadband but pointed out that a feature of the construction industry is it is spread throughout every part of the country. “It is impossible to introduce industry-wide initiatives and innovations if all in the industry cannot avail of them,” she remarked.

By Niall Byrne