For many years now IrelandOffline have called for the proper provision of broadband throughout Ireland. We have made much of the sad and sorry state of the provision of broadband throughout rural Ireland (and indeed urban Ireland). Slow speeds and rotting telephone lines leading to pathetic speeds for consumers throughout our republic.
Today we read that the State cannot even provide broadband to it’s own police force, with over 40% of garda stations left unconnected to the PULSE system, leading to the ludicrous situation where policemen (gardaí) have to drive up to a 100 km to enter information into a network enabled computer. Seemingly, almost 300 of the country’s 703 garda stations have no Internet or email access. This is the “information island” not some third world republic, this would be laughable if it were not so serious. The government’s answer is “sure haven’t they got voice communications”.(even third world republics are forging ahead and rolling out fibre networks)
Now the State knows how hollow the words of the Minster Pat Rabbitte are when even the gardai cannot be connected to broadband services. If the gardai are being ignored what will the government do for the multitude of rural dwellers who feel they too cannot get broadband or barely have access to substandard 3G non-broadband technology.
Eamonn Wallace, Chairman of IrelandOffline said : “Need we remind the Minister and the government that the provision of broadband was one of the core promises of the Labour and Fine Gael manifestos? Fine Gael promised the NewERA plan which would give Ireland a high-speed broadband network with speeds in the top 5 of the OECD.
Meanwhile Labour promised that they would facilitate the establishment of a new company, NetCo,which would begin the roll-out of next generation broadband.
We are a year into the term of this government and seemingly nothing has been done expect to use the tired, at this stage, excuse of blaming the previous government for everything. C’mon lads it’s been a year now and you need to take ownership of these problems, sure the country languished under previous administrations, but it’s your turn to do something constructive now. ”
Why broadband is important
Investment in broadband is one of the keys to economic recovery in Ireland, certainly in the 21st century no business can function without broadband. Ireland needs to invest now for the future. Booz & Company have shown that countries that have higher broadband penetration rates have achieved up to two per cent higher GDP growth than those with lower penetration rates. In a World Bank report, Broadband Infrastructure Investment in Stimulus Packages: Relevance for Developing Countries (PDF), author, Christine Zhen-Wei Qiang, concluded that “policy makers can wait for serious bottlenecks and areas of insufficient investment to appear before investing, or choose to invest as a way to attract economic activity”.
“In the case of broadband network, the significant time lag between identifying a bottleneck and building a network can forego large economic gains, given its positive spillover and network effects,” she wrote.
“Therefore, timely public spending in broadband infrastructure can realize immediate network effects and bring forward long-term aggregate spillover effects which improve the productivity of the entire economy.”