Mobile broadband is taking off in Ireland -But

Mobile broadband is the big winning trend in Ireland according to ComReg’s latest quarterly - but its more a case of needs must rather than anything Ireland should be particularly proud out in the international statistics. Of the 886,300 broadband subscribers here by the end of 2007 - over 100,000 were mobile broadband subscribers - ie taking up one of the packages offered by their mobile supplier to connect to broadband internet through their mobile or mobile+laptop. While that’s all good - the idea that the real growth in Ireland is mobile is more a result of poor broadband options for many users who are susequently forced to rely on mobile options with low speeds and high costs. Its great to see a mobile community of net users growing but it shouldnt be a reflection of a poor mass penetration of high speed broadband in homes, offices and schools. Mobile should be augmenting a general roll-out of high speed connectivity rather than be a replacement. In some cases it also means that the statistics are double counting some users - who are both home subscribers and mobile subscribers - which again doesnt inspire us in terms of the overall picture of Ireland’s connectedness. The real issue for us is that we are being left behind in terms of speed - and consequently in terms of real innovation. We need a review of broadband supply and options in Ireland to ensure we fast track more connections - and ensure that Ireland doesnt lag behind continually in the information age. Continually people come here - expecting us to be leading - only to discover we’re lagging years behind many of our western European neighbours. What is the cost? Ultimately its the economy and society of Ireland that will suffer - how can we expect companies to stay here - but our instrastructure is so poor. It used to be about roads and airports - they may still be congested messes - but the real gap is now broadband and lets not pretend that the growing mobile broadband numbers is actually changing that - we need to see that overall figures change far more dramatically than they are at present to feel anyway confident about our competitiveness in the coming years.

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