Half of Irish businesses failing to capitalise on broadband services, survey finds

Research from wholesale broadband operator Siro reveals two-tier digitalisation beginning to emerge

Half of Irish businesses are failing to capitalise on the opportunities brought by up-to-date broadband services, remaining on older technologies such as cable and copper, a new survey has found.

The research from wholesale broadband operator Siro said a two-tier digitalisation was beginning to emerge, with small businesses more likely to be stuck on older broadband systems.

Some 53 per cent of Irish businesses still do not use fibre broadband connections, with a third of medium or larger businesses operating without fibre, while 51 per cent of micro companies — those with less than 10 employees — are relying on copper or cable.

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More than 270 businesses were surveyed for the report, which found a third of companies have made the shift to fibre in the past five years.


However companies cited several obstacles to switching over, from the cost to a lack of availability in their area. More than 20 per cent said they were unaware of the benefits of switching over and 9 per cent said they did not believe it would make a difference to their business.

Despite this, the majority of companies were aware of the important role broadband played in operating their business.

“As a nation of SMEs, employing two-thirds of our workers, with 91 per cent of our businesses employing less than 10 employees, high-quality fibre connectivity is a critical building block of digital transformation, yet businesses missing the opportunity to secure their future,” said Siro’s chief commercial officer Ronan Whelan.

“Small businesses currently face a challenging environment, but reliable fibre connectivity can unlock tools which can hugely support their daily operations. This includes technologies to improve workplace productivity, reduce the impact of labour shortages, or to better manage and lower input costs.”

Last year, the European Commission called on the communications regulator in Ireland to accelerate the switching off of copper networks, through which traditional telecoms services were provided, to make way for modern fibre more suited to the demands of the internet and data.

Communications company Eir has already published plans for phasing out copper.

“With the switch off of copper broadband on the way, Government and industry need to do more to encourage Irish businesses not just to make the switch to fibre broadband, but to better understand how it can deliver tangible benefits to their bottom line,” said Mr Whelan.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist