How can there be progress without broadband access?
2018-04-01 16:20:00 -

Rural Ireland stands no chance of any future unless quality broadband access can be brought to it very soon. It is time to face up to that fact.

We live in world of ICT: information and communication technology, and it will determine the future. Our people are already very divided in terms of ICT, with severe marginalisation resulting from it. 

To make matters worse we have a massive ICT literacy problem. Generally among the population there are huge pockets of people who have no idea of what it is all about. Even if broadband could be brought to rural Ireland, how many of the older generation could use it? That’s nothing to say of the difficulties many experience with reliability even in places where it is said to be of reasonable quality.

Other technical problems also exist. Computers sold in many parts of Ireland do not seem to be the best compared to other countries, with generally lower specifications, making already unreliable internet connections even worse.

Socially, our high-tech, increasingly ICT-based society is not necessarily producing progress. How can there be progress when many parts of the country do not have access to broadband, and won’t for the foreseeable future? What about the profound difficulties in getting people to change the way they do business or communicate?

The challenge for this country is enormous when it comes to ICT. The limited amount of competition in the marketplace for broadband is another crucial problem that surely limits availability and monopolises pricing. The success or failure of any country in the world could depend on its availability, reliability, velocity and annual cost. It would be wise to look at Finland as an example: a country with some extremely remote parts, but where every citizen has the right to a broadband connection.

Our Government will have to take broadband a lot more seriously from now on, especially in the post-Brexit world where it could be make or break for this country. Complacency is not an option for rural or urban Ireland alike.

Maurice Fitzgerald 

Shanbally, Co Cork

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