Regulator calls for heavy investment in infrastructure

28 Nov 2002

Telecoms regulator, Etain Doyle, has called for greater investment from the private sector and government in efficient infrastructure and business practices to make Ireland a more productive economy.

This comes following revelations that the newly formed ComReg agency is about to issue a directive forcing telecommunications companies and internet service providers to offer cheaper internet access.

She told a business breakfast hosted by Cork Chamber of Commerce that up until now Ireland’s competitiveness strategy was to emphasise the country’s educated and versatile low-cost labour force and lower cost capital structure. “This factor-driven approach has been hugely successful in the past, but in what is now clearly a higher cost economy, such an approach will become increasingly untenable. Ireland needs to move to the next stage of development, where efficiency is paramount.”

This, she said, involves moving the focus from cheap labour and capital to heavy investment in efficient infrastructure and business-friendly government administration, with strong incentives for the private sector to invest in productivity-enhancing technologies and processes. “Such a move involves change, with firms implementing new strategies, investment priorities shifting and new government policies to support these moves. But if we are to compete with knowledge-based economies such as Korea and Singapore, it is essential that efficiency in producing products and services becomes the dominant source of our competitive advantage”, Doyle said.

Doyle’s words come on the heels of a story in this morning’s Irish Independent on how the newly-formed three-person Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) is due to publish a draft directive demanding cheaper internet access, more relaxed regulation and decreased telecommunications costs. As well as providing for fixed rate internet access (FRIACO) the directive will provide that price caps should not be inhibitive to competition.

By John Kennedy