Mostly I have shied away from talking about broadband here in Ireland because well, it’s a long way to Tipperary from Minnesota. Some news is that the plan to help Dublin go wireless was dropped a few weeks ago. Last week Fine Gael unveiled its national broadband strategy. They want to revisit the current plan and upgrade the infrastructure to higher-speed fiber-optic cable and to pass legislation to ensure that underground pipes for fiber-optic cables is installed in all new housing and apartment developments.
Development in Dublin (I can’t really speak to Tipperary or other parts of Ireland) is absolutely amazing. You can’t stand anywhere in the city (or surrounding suburban areas) without seeing a new development going up in at least one direction. So focusing on new building is not a bad start.
Anyways what I really wanted to mention was a great article that my mother-in-law cut out for me yesterday. It’s about Ice Broadband, a company that provides wireless Internet access to 10 rural counties in Ireland.
Ice Broadband was set up in 2003, by Yvonne Rooney an engineer/entrepreneur who is now 25. She had planned to go to internship in the US, but it fell through due to post-911 issues. She and her friends were wary of finding other meaningful internships so they decided to start their own company.
Rooney’s father is quite well off so was able to help in the early stages – and his investment has paid off handsomely. Apparently there was little competition for wireless when they first started. Now there is a lot more buy Rooney claims that’s good because it has heightened awareness and demand and there is plenty of business for everyone at this point.
I think this story interesting to an American audience for two reasons – first, clearly we lost a great opportunity to have this bright spark come to the US because of the post-911 environment. I don’t know if the issue was no jobs, too many visa hassles, or something else. I don’t think it matters – but I think we were and still are losing good people who would be helping us at home.
Second, I love how these guys just did it. They saw a business opportunity to provide broadband and they went for it and now they’re making money. In fairness Ireland is much smaller than Minnesota – but it’s at least as rural. (Sorry I can’t find the article online from February 1 Irish Times– but there’s the gist.)