Ireland puts its faith in ICT for Economic Recovery

Dublin, 24th May 2011

DUBLIN, Ireland — The economic boom and bust Ireland has experienced over the last decade has caused a fair few ups and downs for the emerald isle, but Pat Rabbitte, Ireland's Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources says it has all come with a silver lining.

Speaking during his keynote at the TM Forum in Dublin on Tuesday, Rabbitte said the boom had left Ireland with a a significant stock of infrastructure and a drive to be more competitive to win business back.

“We have landed almost 30 international companies with the potential to create up to 3,000 jobs,” said Rabbitte, who only recently took up his post as minister.

Indeed, with Google Corp., Facebook, eBay and Paypal – to name but a few – all setting up shop in Dublin, Rabbitte has quite a portfolio on his hands as he forges forward with his vision to make the city the digital capital of Europe.

“A thriving cluster is emerging,” said Rabbitte, adding that innovation was the topic of the day and that it was especially good in Ireland where a “hardworking, diligent, multilingual” workforce goes hand in hand with “cutting-edge know how.”

While Rabbitte admitted that his government had had to take “enormously difficult decisions lately,” and that the pain of those decisions would be “felt for many years to come,” he insisted that Ireland was “on the road to recovery,” and confident that there would be better years ahead.

“My department and my government is ready to enter the fray,” said the minister, who recently proposed a new National Broadband Scheme to reach the extra 2% of the Irish rural population still without coverage.

Rabbitte also went on to detail the Next Generation Broadband Taskforce, comprised of CEOs from “all the large network owners.” The taskforce's aim is to ensure that policy makers are closer to those who have to actually operate within the policy environment and to ensure government produces policy that is innovative in its own right.

One of these innovative policies is up for test and trial in as little as four weeks as Ireland's 10 million Euro government-backed Exemplar Network – a smart communications network – goes live for trial.

Based on advanced optical communications technology, Exemplar is based on optical packet switching and transport (OPST) technology developed by Irish company Intune Networks. The technology is believed to have the ability to change the way data is transmitted across fibre networks and increase efficiency. If successful, it also has the potential to put Ireland firmly on the global technology map.

The testbed is being showcased at TM Forum this week and the minister called it “the essence of collaboration,” for bringing together firms like OpenNet, BT, Ericsson, Amartus, HEAnet, Cybercom, Imagine, ESB Telecom, Sensecom and Digiweb.

“The Exemplar Network will give Ireland a true competitive advantage in the key area of information and communications technology,” declared Rabbitte adding his hope that it would “raise the reputation of Ireland as a leader in technological innovation, act as a magnet for foreign direct investment and serve as an incubator for indigenous job creation.”

Noting that the project would help the industry solve problems creatively, Rabbitte said Exemplar would “bring together ICT companies who wish to be involved in and are willing to invest in the development of a Test and Trial Network.”

Playing to the crowd, Minister Rabbitte also declared his hope of attaining “massive bandwidth, at lower cost, using lower energy,” in order to provide bandwidth as a better service.

“The next step will be led by industry and supported by government,” he concluded.



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