O’Brien makes appearance at broadband panel

O’Brien a senior player in the UN agency for information and communication technologies

Davos selfie: attendees enjoy a lighter moment at the 45th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. Photograph: EPA/Laurent Gillieron

Davos selfie: attendees enjoy a lighter moment at the 45th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. Photograph: EPA/Laurent Gillieron

 

Within an hour of touching down in Davos, The Irish Times bumped into one of its compatriots – businessman Denis O’Brien.

Dressed in a sharp pink shirt, with not a bodyguard in sight, Mr O’Brien looked the picture of contentment as he walked along the snowy street approaching the convention centre.

In a brief chat, he explained that he was only in Davos for 24 hours and the main reason for his visit was his involvement with ITU, the UN agency for information and communication technologies.

The Digicel chair was one of the main participants at a special session of the Broadband Commission, which kicked off at 8am yesterday.

Ireland’s most famous telecoms magnate appeared on the panel with a number of international bigwigs, including the chief executives of Ericsson, Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and America Movil, and the president of Estonia. The session, which was held in private, focused on the theme of broadband access for the developing world.

O’Brien has been a senior player in the ITU for about four years. The focus of the organisation is to ensure connectivity and improve ICT access for all communities around the world.

“Four billion people are still offline around the world,” explains ITU’s head of communications, Irish man Paul Conneally – although how many are potential Digicel customers is another matter.

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