Last Friday evening, a senior Eircom executive (John McKeon, director of Eircom Wholesale) made an audacious pitch. Speaking at the annual Ibec telecoms ball, he told the crowd of telecoms bosses that it was time to look again at how Ireland's broadband roll-out was funded.
His proposal: that Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook and other large web content providers should co-pay for infrastructure costs.
The pitch is not a new one. For many years, the US telecoms and cable giants have been calling for some form of "contribution" from content-providers toward their costs. The most oft-used rationale is that Google and Yahoo are getting a "free ride" off their infrastructure.
But this new thinking is likely to be provocative to firms such as Google and Microsoft, multinationals we're supposed to be courting. It might also prove a little unpalatable to film, television and music producers (including RTE), who might have mixed views on their downloadable products being cited as the reason they get a bill for network fees.The Minister for Communications, Eamon Ryan, got up to speak after McKeon. He acknowledged the point without commenting on it.