#DIF12 – Without proper broadband, forget about being competitive

23 Mar 2012

Vodafone Ireland CEO Jeroen Hoencamp at the Digital Ireland Forum in The Convention Centre, Dublin

Vodafone Ireland CEO Jeroen Hoencamp told this morning’s Digital Ireland Forum in Dublin that connectivity and skills go hand-in-hand with creating a viable digital economy.

In terms of the digital agenda for Ireland and the objective of meeting the European Commission’s 2020 broadband targets, Hoencamp said he agreed with Communication Minister Pat Rabbitte, TD’s, assertion that the work of the Next Generation Taskforce will help make Ireland more competitive.

Hoencamp said funding infrastructure is vital. “If we don’t have proper broadband as a basic infrastructure, forget about being competitive.”

In terms of education, he said the children of today are naturally computer literate but this needs to be supported in the education environment.

“My seven-year-old is more computer literate than I am after 15 years in the technology industry. Then he goes to school and while he is fortunate enough to have a principal with a huge focus on ICT, the school has 75 computers and they all run on a 4Mbps connection – that is not possible, we need to change this.

“We need to look in the mirror and reinvent. Ireland can’t continue to do what it has been doing for the last 15 years in terms of the regulatory environment. You need to realise that the world is one big economy now.”

Hoencamp also spoke about turning traditional businesses into digital businesses. “One statistic I find shocking is that only two-thirds of Irish businesses have an internet site and only 20pc of those have online sales capabilities.

“Not only do we need to think about how we can fundamentally change the way we educate people here but we need to change policy to ensure we can build infrastructure and make it easier to set up businesses.

“This country can become an incubator for growth.”

Go to the Digital Ireland Forum microsite for highlights of the event.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years