Telecoms entrepreneur McCourt sees ‘technological power shift’ striking rural Europe, Mid-East, Africa and beyond
enet, the largest alternative telecoms network in Ireland and part of Granahan McCourt Capital (GMC), recently celebrated the launch of two one gigabit-per-second fibre broadband networks in North Kerry and Mayo, two rural areas in western Ireland, as part of the country’s National Broadband Plan.
David C. McCourt, founder and CEO of GMC, recently spoke to BBC Radio 4 and the Sunday Business Post about enet’s role in providing connectivity to these underserved areas of Ireland, as well as how the National Broadband Plan and similar projects are changing the technological landscape in Ireland and across the globe.
McCourt described these changes as a “power shift” fuelled by technology, in which typically underserved areas of the world – particularly rural Europe, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and South America – are experiencing rapid regulatory change, technological change and changes in consumer behaviour.
This power shift, he said, is characterised by the ability of these populations to affect the political and social landscape in ways that were once unprecedented, thanks to a growing level of connectivity, something which GMC strives to perpetuate through its many operations across the globe, including enet in Ireland.
According to McCourt, this power shift is most evident in the cities of the developing world. He noted that in parts of Africa, over the last several years, the cell phone has almost entirely circumvented the traditional bank as the preferred mode of payment and cash transfer. Although this has been referred to as one of the most liberating moments of the past decade, it was not anticipated by any governments.
Commenting on connectivity developments around the globe, McCourt referred to these changes as immense, noting that approximately four billion people around the globe, a majority of the world’s population, still do not have access to the internet.
“The internet and other emerging technologies breed continuous innovation,” he told the Sunday Business Post. “This innovation involves not just a change in tools, but a shift in influence towards those who were previously unaffiliated and unconnected. We should be doing everything we can to spread the technology that is critical for development.”
In a career spanning 30 years, McCourt has founded and led multi-national telecom firms with several landmark achievements helping to bring connectivity to technologically underserved areas of the world. He was responsible for bringing the first competitive telephone and TV landscape to Mexico and built the first competitive telecom network in America with Corporate Communications Network, which was merged into MFS to create MFS/McCourt. MFS was later sold to WorldCom for US$14.5 billion.
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