Suggesting free wireless broadband for the masses doesn’t sound like a shrewd business move but Conal Henry, CEO of e-net, believes that this approach applied to town and city centres around the country would help to increase Wi-Fi uptake.
Limerick-based telco e-net provides the government’s metropolitan area networks (MANs) which are available throughout 27 towns in the country, giving over 600,000 people access to various telecoms services.
E-net was also behind the Wi-Fi MAN project by Carlow County Council which was named the “first Wi-Fi enabled town in Ireland” with wireless coverage to many businesses and residents in the town centre.
“I think we would like to explore other commercial levels,” said Henry.
“I’d like to see some element of free service so that passing trade, tourists, students, and the travelling community can use this service without having to pay for it. if it almost became an element of municipal amenity.”
The difficulty with this, says Henry, is that it needs finding from somewhere but Wi-Fi, he claimed, has really taken off. “However,” he continued, “that is very difficult in a situation where it is not funded by somebody but I think where Wi-Fi has really taken off is where it has been provided for free.
“People would find it very useful not as their core broadband service but as a practical amenity for when they are in a metropolitan area.”
However, there are a number of issues associated with its implementation even aside from budget, warns Henry.
“A framework must be complied with: you don’t want to go in and start providing for free that what others are selling.
“So this model would need to be worked on but I think with a creative approach and cooperation from the telecommunications market there is a way through this.”
By Marie Boran