Information Technology: Government Gives Broadband a Boost

Article excerpt

THE Government put its money where its mouth is last week with an announcement that it would subsidise the introduction of satellite broadband into Northern Ireland.

In doing so, DETI gave the business community some inkling that it was actually interested in a broadband Northern Ireland and had a semblance of a strategy.

There has, of course, been much talk of Broadband Britain but it has mostly been just that - talk!

There has been little substance to the rhetoric; yet, a quick glance at other nations across Europe shows the UK lagging behind the rest of the EU when it comes to making sure their citizens and business are provided with broadband access.

In Northern Ireland, the main providers of broadband services are BT with their digital subscriber lines and ntl with cable modem.

Both need significant public sector assistance if the country is to have access to broadband services, and I don't just mean money for the companies, rather a major campaign to encourage take up.

Sceptics always want to know why we need such services and the answer is fairly simple - speed of access to markets and the increasing need to transfer large amounts of data.

The difficulty, though, is that there is no killer application to drive demand for broadband - no-one has a desperate, must-have reason for using it.

From a Government perspective, though, the issue should be crystal clear - no broadband equals a diminishing reason for inward investors setting up shop in Northern Ireland.

And before anyone cries foul, this is not alarmist talk whatsoever. …