'Without rural broadband, it's difficult to attract new jobs' - Microsoft president warns Ireland

Microsoft's Brad Smith
Microsoft's Brad Smith
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Microsoft president Brad Smith has reiterated his warning that Ireland faces a damaging future if it does fix rural broadband quickly.

Speaking to the 70,000-strong Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Mr Smith said that a million Irish people are left without access to modern high speed broadband, a state that threatens the country’s progress.

The speech followed a Sunday Independent interview where Mr Smith warned that areas outside Dublin, Cork and other cities would face an “extraordinarily difficult” future for jobs and development without broadband access.

“It’s really important that Ireland gets the benefit of this,“ he said.

“With roughly a million people in those areas, it’s critical to close the gap.

"If a rural community doesn’t have access to broadband, it makes it extraordinarily difficult to attract new jobs. It even makes it difficult to sustain the jobs that are there. And it makes it impossible to take advantage of advances for everything from healthcare to education.”

Mr Smith’s warning comes as the government nears the signing of a contract to begin the rollout of the National Broadband Plan, a state-subsidised program to connect half a million rural homes and businesses to high speed fibre broadband.

Communications Minister Richard Bruton has indicated that the contract, with David McCourt’s National Broadband Ireland, is imminent.

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