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Irish Chamber Slams Government For Slow Pace Of Broadband Growth

by Jason Gorringe,, London

02 October 2003

The Chief Executive of the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland (CCI) has severely criticised the government and telecoms firms for the slow rate of growth in broadband services which he warned threatens Ireland's competitiveness as a leading location for international businesses.

Whilst addressing the national conference of the Commission for Communication Regulation, Mr Dunne observed that fewer than 12,000 Irish firms have subscribed to broadband services, though noting that over 65,000 companies have stated high speed internet access would be desirable from a cost viewpoint.

"There are two main reasons for this," stated Mr Dunne. "Firstly, companies are becoming increasingly skeptical and do not trust those that are selling the service because over the past few years the industry has been engaged in over promising and under-delivering. This has been compounded by the late roll-out of DSL largely as a result of resistance by Eircom to deregulation and the relative lack of powers of the regulator."

"The other problem," added Dunne, "is that the Government has failed to take the lead by creating vital Internet based public services that are of genuine interest to business i.e. that save businesses money or otherwise enhance their bottom line."

The CCI chief illustrated the point using the example of Singapore where there exists an integrated data warehousing system providing for all trade documentation which he said has saved exporters 100 million euros a year. Dunne claimed "having studied the system, we would estimate that the savings in Ireland would be almost twice that."

"The Government is spending vast amounts of energy and money trying to drive change in the telecommunications sector without achieving commensurate strategic impact. If the Government does not introduce services such as this, business will continue to inch along the Luddite road of dial-up networking," Mr Dunne warned.

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