Labour reveals its digital plan for Ireland

31 Jan 2011

‘Labour’s Plan for Digital Ireland’ is how Eamon Gilmore TD, the Labour Leader, put it as he unveiled his vision for how broadband infrastructure will be key to jobs and recovery. The plan includes a rating system for properties based on connectivity.

“Yesterday, we launched Labour’s plan for promoting job creation and tackling the scourge of unemployment through trade and innovation. Today, we are looking at specific plans we have for delivering growth by developing our broadband infrastructure,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore said next-generation broadband is an essential component of our economic recovery. The availability of high-speed broadband is crucial for business and job creation, as well as being key to attracting outside investment.

“Despite the often-touted rhetoric of the smart economy, Ireland lags significantly behind the EU and the OECD in many crucial aspects. The failure of Fianna Fáil Governments over the past decade to roll out adequate connectivity has left Ireland languishing well behind our international competitors in the broadband stakes.

“Under the watch of the current government, Ireland dropped out of the global top 50 ranking for download speed (which) demonstrates clearly we are being left behind on the smart economy front.

‘Decent broadband is as important to Ireland in the 21st century as electricity was in the Thirties’

In its broadband paper, Labour said Ireland ranks 22nd out of 30 countries in the OECD for broadband access and that Ireland’s 16-24-year-olds rank 26th out of 27 in the EU for regular use of the internet.

Gilmore said that if Labour makes it to Government it will:

  • Pave the way for a new company, NetCo, which would begin the roll out of Ireland’s next-generation broadband
  • Instruct ComReg to aggressively pursue further local loop unbundling price reduction
  • Develop a broadband rating system for every property being sold or rented
  • Increase the digital literacy of the Irish population
  • Appoint a chief information officer (CIO) to play a central role in encouraging cloud computing and improving e-government
  • Make the establishment of the Digital Single Market one of Ireland’s priorities in its European agenda
  • Encourage investment in next-generation broadband by facilitating the appropriate regulatory culture
  • Instruct ComReg to ensure all suppliers provide regular data on speeds throughout their networks

Gilmore added it is Labour’s belief that the basis of a future smart economy and job creation is high-speed broadband.

“Labour believes that if we are to build a smart economy, then a high-quality broadband system has to be the foundation to it. We are entering an era where many goods will never be manufactured or packaged in a traditional way; the manufacturing of the future will be carried out in an online setting.

“Our plans today provide a blueprint for building that foundation.”

For the past two years, Silicon Republic has run a campaign to highlight the imperative of creating the digital infrastructure and services upon which the success of our economy depends.

The website for Digital 21 provides a forum for all those interested in accelerating the development of Ireland’s Digital Economy.

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