Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave has said he will relocate the event out of Ireland if RDS chief executive Michael Duffy does not allow an external operator to provide wifi access next year after persistent wifi access problems plagued this week’s summit.
The event, which this year attracted more than 20,000 visitors to Dublin over three days, is worth more than €100m to the country’s economy.
“It’s incredibly frustrating that we can’t control the wifi; that the RDS are not willing to let Cisco — who have offered in the past — to run the wifi,” Cosgrave told the Irish Examiner.
“I’m optimistic that Michael Duffy, the CEO — who’s actually a very reasonable man — based on the feedback that he got last year and now again this year will actually relinquish or move from his position of the last two years and allow us to use the likes of Cisco to run it.
“If we can’t reach that [agreement], we have no other choice of venue in Ireland; our only choice is to move elsewhere in Europe and as an Irishman that would be incredibly disappointing but it’s a decision we may have to make, it’s ultimately in the hands of Michael Duffy.”
Cosgrave later remarked publicly from the main stage of the event that Duffy was “very open but noncommittal” to the idea of allowing Cisco to provide wifi service.
“It is incredibly frustrating that, when you hope your country would come together and at least put its best foot forward, a bunch of old dudes who control this venue and carve out contracts for each other just hold this country back by years,” he said. “I just hope to God next year is a little bit better than this year.
“I look forward to a time when I ask if there’s a problem with the wifi and nobody raises their hand and I believe that time will be 2015 otherwise we won’t be in this country very much longer.”
According to RTE, the organizers and RDS have since issued a joint statement saying they were working together to ensure that the issues were resolved ahead of next year’s event.
Said RDS CEO Duffy: “Notwithstanding this, the Web Summit is an entirely unique technology event which, and as with any technology event of this scale, does present certain unique challenges, due to the large numbers in attendance and the unprecedented demands on the wifi and network systems, aligned to extremely high volumes of devices concurrently accessing the network.
“Moving forward, the organizers of the Web Summit and ourselves will work in close partnership to ensure that this remains the world class technology event that it has become.
“We are 100% committed to working hand-in-hand with the Web Summit team in order to ensure that these issues are resolved, by whatever means required, ahead of the next event in 2015.”