Republic’s p*** poor record on broadband…

Damien Mulley is fuming with Comreg et al. Despite being the second richest country in the world in terms of GDP, domestic broadband penetration in the Republic is scraping just above the ground at 8%. The average amongst new member EU countries is 12%. Slugger also hears that the new Danish owners of Northern Bank offered its employees a deal in which they provided laptops and a free domestic broadband connection for a year, but were dismayed when large numbers of their staff in the Republic reported the deal was no good them, since there was no broadband connection to be had in their area.

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  • Brian Boru

    Part of this relates not so much to the Eircom/Telecom Eireann privatisation around 7 years ago, but to how it was done. The local-loop remains under Eircom’s control and unbundling it is necessary to allow other broadband providers to access the market. Unfortunately, this means a clear conflict of interest exists, in the sense that cooperation too much with rivals would lose Eircom market share in the broadband market. I think that while the privatisation was right, Eircom should not have retained control of the local-loop. I hope somehow it becomes possible to separate Eircom from it so as to have a more level playing-field.

  • fair_deal

    Mick

    The first link is going to the wrong place. Its about newspaper circulation so it may have been intended for your other post

  • Mick Fealty

    fixed

  • Green Ink

    “Hello Eircom Broadband.”
    “Hello, I’d like to order broadband.”
    “Certainly sir. I’ll just check the line for you. Oh, you can get broadband in your area.”
    “Great, sign me up.”
    “But you can’t get it as we have no ports available.”
    “What do you mean?”
    (Short explanation of how exchanges need special ports for broadband.)
    “Well can’t you just add more ports?”
    “Yes we may do that in time sir.”
    “So what you’re saying is I can’t have broadband.”
    “I’m afraid not sir. If you’d like to check back in”[click]
    “Hello BT Broadband.”
    “Hello I’d like to order broadband.”
    “Certainly sir. Just checking the line… yes that’s fine. You’re order has been logged and you should be connected in around two weeks.”

    And in less than two weeks I was connected.
    By a rival company supposedly on the same infrastructure.
    And Eircom lost another customer.

  • qubol

    A few months ago I had to set up ADSL connections north and south – BT aren’t exactly great and they still have an amazing ability to mess things up but Eircom are in another league. Their provision teams don’t know what is happening in the exchanges nor do they care and their frontline support is awful. The telecoms market needs a real shake up in the south – I thought BT joining the game might help but some reports I’ve heard of them are pretty poor too. This is important in an all-ireland context because problems like this usually tend to lead to technology developing in different ways. In the future you could see a largely wireless network in the south as ISP’s attempt to play catch up and in the north you could see a more developed fixed point physical network develop. This is something that should concern Nationalist parties and it is something that they could make capital on – I don’t however expect to hear anything in the near future.

  • qubol

    Green Ink – thats unbelievable! I had exactly the same conversation.

  • Harry

    Just to be connected to eircom with a phone line and their lowest quality broadband offering will cost you 650 euros a year. That’s before you’ve made a single phone call. And I think VAT is on top of that.

    650 euros is around 2% of the annual take-home pay of the average industrial wage.
    If you actually make any phone calls you can add around a 1000 euros per annum on top of that, at a minimum.

    Clearly the country is being run by highway robbers. O’Reilly and his ilk are not just content with smamrmily screwing us for connecting to the net and having a chat, they have inveigled themselves into stealing the countries oil and gas resources too without a single shred of experience in that domain themselves.

    Disgusting.

    But worse than that. Ireland is a conservative society which has traditionally controlled its media tightly due to the legacy of partition and the potential challenge republicans may have presented to the status quo. Section 31, the stuffing of RTE with what are little more than partitionist-minded apologists, the control of the newspapers by anti-republican forces in the main – all of these could have been undone or seriously dented by the new paradigm of the internet and its ability for individuals and groups to disseminate information to large numbers of people via audio, video, websites, bulletin boards, mailing lists and the like.

    Is it any surprise then that the country has such little broadband penetration? Do you seriously think this has not been deliberate?

    Given the choice between developing the country and keeping it in a state of benighted backwardness in order to secure their power, the scum in fianna fail have always chosen the latter throughout the decades they have been in power.

  • Green Ink

    Hmmm. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s more than us out there with that experience qubol. Venture capitalists intent on scuttling the company and selling off the assets anyone?
    There’s a wireless community developing principally around the west that’s providing its own free infrastructure (although you still have to pay an ISP if you want internet access).
    http://www.irishwan.ie/
    While the telecoms quibble initiatives like this might pull the infrastructural carpet from under them.

  • This link might be of use to anyone wanting to get broadband in the Republic. Includes a map of where DSL is available and not available: http://www.mulley.net/2006/02/09/broadband-choices-in-ireland/

    The new eircom CEO might actually start fixing things judging by his statements to the press. Compare that to Minister Dempsey who stated myself and others were damaging the economy by pointing out how bad Ireland is for broadband.

  • Irish_in_America

    “Just to be connected to eircom with a phone line and their lowest quality broadband offering will cost you 650 euros a year. ”

    Wow, that is shocking.
    I pay US$32 per month for phone and broadband (AT&T) with free local calls. That is 288 euros a year roughly.

    That’s why I laugh when people tell me how great things are in Ireland. I couldn’t afford to move back there.

  • Little Eva

    Damien Mulley
    Dempsey must have thought if it wasn’t mentioned no one else would notice.

  • IJP

    Mick

    Equatorial Guinea is in the world’s top 10 for GDP/capita – so you can bin that statistic for a start!

    The fact is the modern Republic is a land of contradictions. A lot of very wealthy people, an astonishing investment record (both ways), a remarkable conversion to cosmopolitanization. That sort of thing makes you wonder why broadband is so rarely available.

    But we can overplay how wonderful it is. There are also a lot of very poor people, and this is is a land which closed the main road from Dublin to Limerick at 4.30pm on a Friday evening to carry out roadworks for an hour without radio or electronic notification, leaving drivers like me completely stranded! That sort of thing makes you wonder how they introduced broadband at all…

  • Ciaran Irvine

    There are plenty of good broadband providers out there. I’ve been with Smart for a year for a flat €35 per month all-in (including line rental). There are also good wireless broadband options with Irish Broadband amongst others, and I know some of the do-it-yourself Irish Wan people round Galway.

    The problem is that a lot of people still haven’t got their heads around the idea that Eircom is no longer a monopoly and that there are real (and usually cheaper and higher quality) alternatives.

    I don’t actually see much future for Eircom, and I wouldn’t be suprised if the company ends up being sold back to the State in 10 years time for scrap.

  • Dispatch

    I pay £16 per month for plusnet broadband at a speed of 7.6Mbps in a village of 1000 homes down the Ards peninsula, I think we are doing ok here.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The local-loop remains under Eircom’s control and unbundling it is necessary to allow other broadband providers to access the market.

    As well as being General Secretary of the CPSU, I’m also a software engineer who writes the firmware running on the equipment used to provide broadband internet access from telephone exchanges.

    Local loop unbundling is a bit of a red herring. It existed in the UK since the early 2000s but it’s only within the last 2-3 years that broadband in the UK has really taken off. The rise of broadband in the UK can be explained simply by leadership – BT snapped out of their daze and realized that their fixed line PSTN business was in decline and that they needed to start aggressively pursuing other sources of revenue. There was also a massive capital investment to install the equipment required to provide the service.

    The regulatory framework in the RoI does not encourage this, and there seems to be a lack of entrepreneurialism in this area.I don’t think high rates of broadband takeup are going to happen without state intervention.

    The next-generation broadband equipment that I’m working with at the moment will take broadband penetration even further; the equipment can now be made much more cheaply and at much higher density. There are also technologies which allow significantly higher bandwidths to be delivered to the end user; ADSL2 is just around the corner and VDSL is galloping into view. Before long, broadband will be a utility just like water or electricity. One telephone line can deliver all the media services you’re ever likely to need.

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    Meanwhile, back in the wilderness of west kerry, i’m surfing away on a satellite broadband connection. Thanks to the Government/local authorities? No. we were told by eircom that we would never ever ever get broadband in this area. So we set up our own group scheme. Full connectivity for 28 euro a month. If you want a job done properly, do it yourself. Depending on this government telecommunications infastructure is a complete waste of time

  • Harry

    Any chance you could give us the details of how you did this Droch_Bhuachaill? Is the connection top quality? Will it work in an urban area? How did you set it up|? Who’s satellite is it? Did you launch it from the Blaskets?

    Seriously, if it’s so possible why doesn’t somebody just do satellite across the whole country and to hell with eircom and their appalling service.

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    Harry,

    Basically, you need 30+ clients for it to be viable. The Recieving Satellite and beaming antenna are located somewhere central, clients pay 200 euro for recievers and installation, then 28 a month. we have a 12gb limit per month at the mo, which is plenty for us.

    We needed a bank loan for our capital expenditure, but we expect to have that cleared within 2 years. I forget the name of the company that supply our bandwith, but there ar several available, so i reckon it would be possible to get a better deal.

    The connection itself is fast, not ISDN fast but close. Better than the service eircom would provide anyway.

    Funny you should mention the Blasket; im looking at it now, back here in the arse of nowhere, working with broadband, while my some of my friends in An Daingean have to make do with dial up.

  • Harry

    I stayed in Suantra once for almost a year. Wonderful place, just between ballyferriter and dunquin. Magical.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The trouble with satellite broadband is that it’s rather high latency. The bandwidth is there but the responsiveness/speed isn’t.

    The connection itself is fast, not ISDN fast but close.

    Huh ? ISDN is painfully slow. It’s approximately the same speed as regular dial up. Unless you bond the two B channels, but that’s still slow. Basic broadband services in NI start at 1MBit/sec which is 8 times more bandwidth than bonded B channels.

    If you already have a phone line then in principle it should be possible to deploy some form of DSL.

  • JW

    That’s nothing. I’m having difficultues getting a phone line switched on.

    Me: Hello, Smart Telecom – can you turn my phone line on?
    Smart Telecom: Yes, what’s your address
    ME: Gave my address
    ST: OK, we have no record of that address. You’ll have to phone Eircom.

    Me: Hello, Eircom – can you turn my phone line on?
    EC: Yes. What’s your address?
    Me: Gave my address
    EC: OK, no problem
    Pause
    EC: We have no record of any line. There isn’t one in your house.
    Me: Yes there is, I’ve just plugged a phone into it and it has the Eircom logo on the box.
    EC: Is it a new apartment?
    Me: No.
    EC: Do you know if the previous tennant had a phoneline?
    Me: I have no idea. I imagine he did.
    EC: We’ll send an engineer out. It’ll take 28 working days and cost €120.

    And so on and so forth.

    J…

  • kensei

    “Equatorial Guinea is in the world’s top 10 for GDP/capita – so you can bin that statistic for a start!”

    This statement is not actually true on Planet Earth. But then again, I always suspected that the Alliance Party didn’t live here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Per_capita_income

    And before anyone moans it’s Wiki – sourced to the IMF:

    http://tinyurl.com/rpono

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken, tinyurl is the best bet if you have a long url like that last one.

  • Mick Fealty

    DB,

    Is there anything online about your group scheme? It would be good to hear more detail on that!?!

    Ciaran,

    The issue is not the deals available, I’m sure where broadband exists, it is competitive. The issue is coverage, and failure rates (though his is difficult because both government ministers and Comreg seem reluctant to give this kind of information out).

    Mick

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    Mick,

    Im afraid we have nothing on the web about our scheme, but we get our bandwith from e3 Broadband. Their is information available on the Udarás na Gaeltachta and the Dept. of Communications websites on other group schemes around the counrty. Satellite Broadband my not be the ideal solution, but it is the only solution for small rural communities like ours.

  • bushy

    Great to hear ye sorted yourselves out DB, i’ve done a good bit with http://www.irishwan.ie over teh last few years …… maybe dynamic bandwidth sharing/bursting etc might be worth a try ? I’m sure there is a large portion of the day when the network relatively quiet , then you could have nearly the full speed of the downlink. Be dirt cheap to get going too.