The number of houses with broadband connections had more than doubled to 31pc in the first quarter of last year, up from 13pc in the first quarter of 2006, new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveal.
Some 57pc of houses had internet connections in the first quarter of 2007, of which over half were broadband connections, according to the CSO’s fifth report on information society statistics.
Some 998,000 households (over 65pc) had a home computer in 2007, of which 87pc were connected to the internet. This was up from 58.5pc of households with a computer in 2006.
The figures were welcomed by IBEC lobby group ICT Ireland.
“Ireland is making steady progress in terms of technology penetration and we are now just above the EU average of 64pc,” said ICT Ireland director, Kathryn Raleigh.
“These statistics are just one indication of Ireland’s position in the global knowledge economy and we should be pleased that Ireland has moved significantly up the ranks in this regard.
“However, we still lag behind the knowledge society leaders, Finland and Sweden, where 74pc and 83pc of household have a computer.”
Raleigh said Ireland needs to also focus on other important issues such as the use of technology by the public sector and Government, and the use of technology in the classroom, where we lag behind our European counterparts.
The figures did highlight regional inequalities, however, with households in the Border, Midland and West region having less than half the broadband connection rate (15pc) of the Southern and Eastern region (37pc).
More than 68pc of households in the Southern and Eastern region owned a computer, of which 88pc were connected to the internet, while in the Border, Midland and Western region a lower percentage of just over 58pc had a computer, of which 82pc were connected to the internet.
The report showed that productivity in the ICT sector remained heavily skewed in favour of foreign multinationals. Foreign-owned enterprises represented 7pc of all ICT enterprises in Ireland in 2005 but accounted for 59pc of the total employment and 86pc of turnover in the sector.
The ICT sector employed over 82,700 people in 2005, representing 9pc of total employment in the industrial and services sectors. Turnover in the ICT sector increased from €53.1bn to €63.3bn between 2004 and 2005, an increase of 19pc. Gross value added in the sector also increased from €14.7bn in 2004 to €19bn in 2005, a jump of 29pc.
Use of computer technology among the general business community has shown an increase. Businesses had a 68pc penetration rate for broadband in Q107, below the EU average of 77pc but up from 61pc the year previously.
Virtually all enterprises in the manufacturing, construction and services sectors used a computer and had access to email and the internet, while 64pc of enterprises had a website or homepage.
Virus checkers or security software were used by 91pc of enterprises in 2007. Firewalls were used by 81pc of enterprises, while 46pc of enterprises indicated they backed up data offsite.
In 2007, 55pc of enterprises made some purchases using e-commerce (internet or electronic data interchange purchases), while 27pc of enterprises had e-commerce sales.
Total revenue in the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors increased from €3.9bn in 2005 to almost €4.3bn in 2006, an increase of over 9pc.
Mobile penetration grew to 114pc by the second quarter of 2007, up from 103pc in Q206. The average amount of SMS messages each Irish person sent was almost 1,060.
By Niall Byrne