One million ‘left without broadband’.

One million ‘left without broadband until at least 2020 as Government set to announce further delay to plan’

The Department for Communications says the plan will be delivered ‘as quickly as possible’

The Government is expected to announce a delay to the National Broadband plan that will leave a million people without access until at least 2020.

The plan has apparently been hit with yet another blow after reports that the 2019 connection date deadline may not now be met.

The new rural broadband connections will now not be in place until 2020 at the earliest, according to reports.

A spokesman for Mr Bruton told the Irish Independent: “The target deployment schedule will be published following the conclusion of the ongoing procurement process.

“The National Broadband Plan is a key priority for Minister Bruton and this Government.” Ireland lags behind 25 other European countries for average broadband speeds, survey reveals. The Government responded to the report by revealing that a new expected delivery date for the plan will be announced “as quickly as possible”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Communications said the target schedule will be published following the conclusion of the ongoing procurement process, RTE reports.

They said that the Government’s priority is to bring that process to a conclusion as quickly as possible. The final tender was received on September 18 from the one remaining bidder and is currently being evaluated. It has been a turbulent few months for the Government’s plan after it was hit by the dramatic resignation of Minister for Communications Denis Naughten earlier this month.

The resignation came after the shock revelation from the Taoiseach that Mr Naughten had met David McCourt for dinner in his home four times.

Mr McCourt is the preferred bidder and the last man standing in the running for the award of the €500million National Broadband Project. Minister Naughten said he was left in an impossible position. He felt that his situation was more about “opinion polls rather than telephone poles” and said he had given his resignation to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Denis Naughten will support government on ‘a case by case basis’ after dramatic resignation. The plan was also shaken at the start of the year after the news that Eir would be pulling out of the tendering process.

Eir blamed the decision to leave the National Broadband Plan (NBP) on “the significant commercial issues and complexity within the tender process, together with growing uncertainty on a range of regulatory and pricing issues that reside outside of the NBP process”.

The company’s board “decided that the risks are too great for its continued participation in the NBP”.

For more details on this interesting story, click here (credit: Irish Mirror).

Call for National Broadband to be redeveloped for SMEs

Call for National Broadband to be redeveloped for SMEs

Most Irish consumers do not believe that their main street is equipped for the digital age.

The Irish Government must redevelop and reprioritise the National Broadband Plan (NBP) in favour of SMEs, the CEO of the IE Domain Registry (IEDR), David Curtin, has urged.

“Despite the near collapse of the current project, the Government must not lose sight of the fact that SME e-commerce is essential to not only balanced economic development across Ireland, but key to the future success of Ireland Inc in an increasingly competitive, globalised world,” Curtin said.

‘Both industry and Government must recognise Irish SMEs’ ongoing lack of e-commerce ability’
– DAVID CURTIN

“A short-term measure would be to fast-track the development of more regional ‘digital hubs’, like Gorey and Skibbereen, which act as magnets for local investment.”

The NBP was recently thrown into disarray with the resignation of former Communications Minister Denis Naughten, TD. An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD, has appointed an auditor, Peter Smyth, to determine if the plan, which has one final bidder, has been compromised or if it is fit for purpose to go ahead.

Ireland’s Internet Day
Curtin’s call on Ireland’s Internet Day (25 October) comes as research shows that the vast majority of Irish consumers believe that their local main street is not equipped for the digital age.

When asked why, 40pc said that their local shops are not online. 22pc said that booking appointments or reservations online is not a priority for their local community. In areas outside of Dublin, 19pc said their local town’s internet quality was too poor to facilitate e-commerce.

Crucially, 65pc said they would buy more from their local shops if those shops had some form of click-and-collect service that allowed them to order a product online and pick it up in store.

In total, 46pc of people can’t book appointments online for services in their local town. This figure drops to just a third (33pc) in Dublin, but rises to more than half (51pc) in areas outside the capital. Hairdressers are the most likely to offer online booking (29pc in total) while handymen and mechanics are the least likely (both 12pc).

The research coincides with the launch yesterday (24 October) by Enterprise Ireland of a €1.25m Online Retail Scheme targeted at retailers that want to develop an online presence.

Ireland’s Internet Day will be officially celebrated in Gorey, Co Wexford, today. Gorey was chosen as Ireland’s first ‘Digital Town’ in a new IEDR initiative aimed at promoting digital skills and knowledge in regional areas.

Over the last four weeks, the IEDR has worked with community organisations and businesses in Gorey to develop their digital skills and online presence, and showcase the digital achievements of the town.

The age of convenience
“Ireland is digital,” Curtin said. “We use multiple devices to access the internet, we are quick to try or adopt new technologies, and we use the internet in diverse ways, whether to purchase goods and services, learn about the world, connect with friends, share our creative pursuits or find love.

“The internet has also enabled an age of convenience. We can buy our weekly shop when we’re on the bus to work, apply for a loan in bed and book our holiday from the sofa. As consumers, we expect this kind of service and ease of use if we’re buying from our local shop or from an international retailer.”

Curtin said e-commerce is worth €12.3bn to the Irish economy but the IEDR’s recent SME Digital Health Index research shows that just three in 10 Irish SMEs can take sales orders online.

“This is despite the fact that Irish consumers are patriotic and want to support their local business more. Two in three consumers would happily buy from their local shops if they had some kind of e-commerce service, like click-and-collect. Until that service is offered, however, consumers will simply continue to spend money with more convenient, user-friendly international retailers.

“Both industry and Government must recognise Irish SMEs’ ongoing lack of e-commerce ability,” Curtin said.

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Irish companies behind on advancements in AI

Irish organisations need to catch up with Europe on advancements in AI

 

Irish organisations are falling behind their European counterparts in the advancement of AI. Research from Microsoft, conducted by EY, has revealed key stumbling blocks within Irish organisations which could threaten successful AI roll out and ultimately, digital success.

Overall the EY report found that 65% of all European organisations expect AI to have a high impact on their core business. However, Irish organisations are falling behind European neighbours in AI implementation and investment. On the flip side, AI in Ireland is ramping up with 75% saying they are in planning or piloting phase.

89% (80% in Ireland) of all respondents expect AI to generate business benefits by optimising their companies’ operations in the future. This is followed by 74% across Europe that expect AI to be the key to engaging customers.

Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland said: “Advancements in AI are creating new opportunities for businesses in Ireland to accelerate innovation and make it more accessible to everyone. Despite the opportunities which AI can unlock, today’s research shows that organisations in Ireland must close the gap with their European peers in adopting AI to digitally transform and enhance their competitiveness”.

For more details on this interesting story, click here (credit: Irish Tech News).