Ahern re-commits to broadband levy


29 Sep 2003

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Dermot Ahern TD, The Minister for Communications, Marine & Natural Resources, has restated his intention to impose a levy on telecoms companies to fund schools broadband.

“I still intend imposing a levy on telcos to fund the rollout of broadband into our schools,” he said. “The South Korean Government levied their telcos to fund broadband and today Korea is leading the world in broadband penetration.”

The Minister was speaking during a five-day trade visit to Japan and South Korea, where he also talked up the potential for developing a thriving games software sector in Ireland. He said Ireland was positioning itself to become the location of choice for the growing global cyber games industry and said that up to 3,500 jobs could be created in the games software sector.

During a visit to the Sony Computer Entertainment headquarters in Tokyo, he outlined the attractions Ireland offered as an investment centre in Europe. He reportedly had a one-hour meeting with Masaru Kato, Sony’s deputy president and other key personnel involved in the games industry. The Minister was told by Sony Europe’s vice-president, David Reeves, that Ireland has the highest penetration of Playstations (38pc of households) outside of Japan.

In the Korean capital Seoul, Minister Ahern met with senior management of the Government-funded games software development agency, Games Infinity.

The Minister said, “Both Korea and Japan are leaders in development and writing software for the games sector. We have a fledgling games software sector at home which offers great potential. Companies such as Havok, which employs 50 people in Dublin’s Digital Hub, are recognised as leaders in their field. As the games sector expands globally, I believe Ireland can be the centre of choice for games companies.”

He added: “We are the largest exporter of software in the world. The Government and the IDA continues to position Ireland at the high skills end of the market and games software writing is a natural progression.”

Philip Flynn, chief executive of the Digital Hub, who accompanied the Minister, outlined the attractions the hub offered for incubator companies in the digital area.

During his visit the Minister met with government ministers involved in the telecommunications sector, including the Japanese telecommunications minister, Mr Tara Aso. He also had a series of meetings with executives of Tokyo Power, NEC, the Sagami Railway company and the Korean Information Society agency.

By Brian Skelly