Number crunchers attack broadband deficit

23 Oct 2003

The Institute of Certified Public Accountants has called on the Communications Minister to issue a policy direction on broadband pricing in order to stimulate take-up in the Irish market.

At the CPA President’s Annual Dinner in Dublin last night, Alan Farrelly said that broadband was vital for international investment, economic prosperity and as a key component of the National Spatial Strategy. The Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland is one of the main Irish accountancy bodies with more than 4,000 members and students.

“There is no doubt that uptake of broadband is being hindered by high prices set in the Republic – currently about €50 per month,” Farrelly said. “The cost of broadband needs to come down and this will only happen with the introduction of real competition in the market. We believe that the Minister must issue a policy direction on broadband to the telecoms regulator (ComReg) to encourage competition and to stimulate the uptake of Broadband through more attractive pricing packages.”

Farrelly continued: “Minister Ahern through the policy direction issued to ComReg was very successful in stimulating flat-rate internet access to the point where there is now intense competition among operators offering access to the internet at competitive prices. We congratulate the Minister on these achievements but we must now see similar progress, very quickly, on making broadband accessible and cost effective for SMEs in Ireland.”

Farrelly said that accountants, many of whom would be classified as SMEs and who advised clients in the SME sector, were only too aware of the importance of broadband to regional development. “As all businesses become increasingly driven by technology, the availability of broadband services on a national basis, not just in urban centres must be a key priority for the Government. Access to broadband is critical to regional development and a cohesive broadband strategy is vital to the economic growth and prosperity of the country,” he pointed out.

“The Minister’s commitment to developing fibre rings in urban centres is to be commended but we believe investment in fibre should be extended to all towns with a population above 5,000 people to ensure the availability of a range of broadband services from operators at a reasonable cost.”

He concluded: “The Minister has achieved much since he entered office and he must continue to use his considerable powers to ensure a competitive telecoms market where SMEs throughout Ireland can take advantage of the improvements in technology to increase the competitiveness and viability of their businesses.”

By John Kennedy