Empty rhetoric behind poor SME broadband uptake

1 Oct 2003

The Chambers of Commerce of Ireland has rounded on the Government and telecoms firms for the lack of take-up of broadband. It cited over-promising, under-delivery and empty rhetoric by the industry as reasons why Irish SMEs are sceptical about signing up for broadband services.

At a national conference of the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), the chief executive of the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland (CCI), John Dunne, said that fewer than 12,000 companies have signed up for broadband since its introduction despite research indicating that 65,000 companies would save money by using DSL.

“There are two main reasons for this,” he argued. “Firstly, companies are becoming increasingly sceptical and do not trust those that are selling the service because over the past few years the industry has been engaged in over-promising and under-delivering. This has been compounded by the late rollout of DSL largely as a result of resistance by Eircom to deregulation and the relative lack of powers of the regulator.

“The other problem is that the Government has failed to take the lead by creating vital internet-based public services that are of genuine interest to business, ie that save businesses money or otherwise enhance their bottom line.”

“For example, Singapore, a country about the size of Ireland, has saved exporters €100m a year by providing all trade documentation on an integrated data warehousing system and having studied the system, we would estimate that the savings in Ireland would be almost twice that.

“The Government is spending vast amounts of energy and money trying to drive change in the telecommunications sector without achieving commensurate strategic impact. If the Government does not introduce services such as this business will continue to inch along the luddite road of dial-up networking,” Dunne concluded.

By John Kennedy