Forfás, the national policy advisory board for enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation in Ireland, is claiming that the nation’s telecoms operators will have to sign up over 700,000 new broadband subscribers in the next three years if the country is to match the progress of other ‘developed’ states around the world. According to recent research undertaken by the body, which operates under the auspices of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Ireland is well behind most major European countries in terms of broadband internet take-up. Of the 21 nations surveyed, only Hungary, the Czech Republic and Greece had a lower penetration of broadband services than Ireland. The average penetration across the countries surveyed was 11%, but the report showed Ireland to be 360,000 connections short of attaining this figure. In order to close the deficit and meet the anticipated average level of penetration by 2007, Irish telcos will have to add 700,000 new broadband accounts.
Forfás attributed Ireland’s poor broadband performance to a lack of growth in broadband technologies other than DSL, including cable broadband and fibre-to-the-home. The report showed that although DSL-enabled exchanges cover 81% of the population, only 2.26% had taken up services. It also indicated that only 30% of Ireland’s small business community use DSL technology, compared to 100% in Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark.