FIBRE UNDER THE PAVEMENT would generate more tax revenue for the Irish Exchequer than a fresh layer of tarmacadam on the roads. That's the point made by nearly every Irish Minister for Communications in the past five years. At the moment, there's a pot of €435m sloshing around the Irish Government's books, due to be invested in the next generation of Irish broadband. I would be happier knowing the money was going into making it less expensive to connect to backhaul services so that small companies could work out a rate with a middleman and then know they could get onto a main trunk line for less than the €6000 figure that's often batted around. For me to break open the pavement and join onto the Metropolitan Area Network that runs outside of our Cashel office means spending at least €4000 for the pavement works, then an equal amount to share backhaul with another company. That's $10,000 to spend in order to get 20 megabits per second of uncontented broadband service. Then an annual subscription fee between €4000 and €6000 to keep the broadband pipe lighted up. For some, that's the cost of doing business. But that price point isn't achieveable for most of the small business owners I know in Ireland.