Next government must sustain broadband push

21 May 2007

It is vital the next government commits to fully implementing the National Broadband Scheme and ensures that momentum is not lost on completing the last 10-15pc of the country not served with broadband, the Telecommunications and Internet Federation (TIF) has warned.

At the Ninth Annual TIF Charity Ball in Dublin, TIF chairman and Vodafone strategy director Gerry Fahy said 80pc of households today could access at least one form of broadband, with over 65pc having a choice of at least two types, one of which would be wireless.

“Since the study has been completed further rollout of DSL-enabled exchanges has been signalled by Eircom, which will increase this availability even further.

“However, all parties recognise that there was always going to be a portion of the population, approximately 10-15pc, mainly in rural areas, where it was going to be uneconomic to roll out broadband, be it wireless or fixed.

“Already significant funding for this has been allocated and a tendering process has been initiated to meet the needs of these disadvantaged areas. It is vital that the next government is committed to fully implementing the National Broadband Scheme and momentum is not lost on this critical issue,” Fahy said.

Fahy added that the industry continues to perform strongly, contributing some €4.4bn to the national economy and accounting for over 3pc of GDP.

“Our industry has continued to invest heavily in the rollout of infrastructure and services, particularly in the area of broadband, where penetration has risen from just 7.8pc this time last year to over 12.5pc today.

“The number of broadband customers has risen rapidly towards the 600,000 mark. At the same time the market has grown and prices have fallen,” Fahy added.

By John Kennedy