In the coming year, Ireland will take steps towards unlocking the potential of the internet of things and the green economy. A number of developments in 2016 set some groundwork for these initiatives. We examine these developments and their likely impact on telecoms and energy players in 2017 and beyond.
First came smartphones. We were hooked. Then came a vision of smart meters, smart homes, smart cities, intelligent utilities, ubiquitous broadband and 5G, Netflix anytime anywhere, driverless electric and compressed natural gas cars, remote working and virtual currencies. A gigabit society - a glimpse of a new super-connected and greener digital world.
Irish and EU governments have set their sights on delivering this vision by 2020 and beyond. In 2017, we will continue to see important early steps being taken at an Irish industry, policy and legislative level to pave the way for these exciting future developments. The question is certainly no longer if, but when, an Irish smart green economy will be realised.
Amongst many industry sectors, the Irish telecoms and energy industries will be the forerunners and will continue to adapt to technological innovation and changing consumer behaviours in 2017. The nature of the internet of things and growing consumer demand for always-on services is such that conventional telecoms and energy companies are seeing increasing overlaps in their areas of activity. This trend is likely to continue in 2017. Over time, the legislative framework governing these industries will follow suit. Each industry will be faced with significant Irish policy, regulatory and legislative changes in the coming years - with early measures being felt in 2017.
A number of developments in 2016 will have important implications for telecoms and energy players in 2017 and onwards:
In December 2016, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action & Environment launched the Report of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce. The Report is intended to identify immediate solutions to Irish broadband/mobile phone coverage deficits prior to implementation of the National Broadband Plan. It identifies short-term actions in areas such as identification and remediation of mobile phone blackspots, telecoms network planning, consumer availability of coverage information, the appointment of broadband officers across local authorities, changes to planning legislation and the enactment of legislation in respect of broadband-ready housing...