700,000 Irish broadband subscribers by 2009


28 Sep 2005

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Irish broadband subscriptions will grow from the present level of 164,000 to 700,000 broadband subscriptions, according to new figures from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The accounting and consulting player projected a 42pc compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for broadband in Ireland in the lead up to 2009.

In tandem with PwC’s analysis of the global entertainment and media industry, the director of PwC Ireland’s entertainment and media practice, Sinead Parker, acknowledged Ireland is coming from a very low base for broadband and said the price and availability of broadband in Ireland contrasted starkly with the UK where subscribers are getting significant broadband connections for around £14.99 sterling.

She told siliconrepublic.com: “We take a global perspective on this and look at all the drivers – technology platforms, economic projections and the position of the incumbent in the overall development of the industry – and check these against country markets to make sure they are a reasonably accurate reflection of what’s going on.

“Ireland has been slow to date. If you compare the £14.99 sterling price with what we are paying in Ireland it is absolutely ridiculous. That said, the situation is changing and we are witnessing the advent of new services and better prices over alternative platforms to DSL such as cable and wireless. I, for example, am paying €25 a month for broadband with NTL. Halve that and you have what some consumers in the UK are paying for broadband.”

Parker said PwC is projecting 700,000 broadband subscribers in the Irish market by 2009, up from its present low level of 164,000 subscribers. PwC’s projection is roughly midway between Communications Minister Noel Dempsey’s industry challenge of 500,000 subscribers by the end of 2006 and the more pessimistic view of lobby group IrelandOffline that at the current rate of progress Ireland would not reach that goal until 2012.

“Ireland is coming from a low base but with better-value propositions and more platforms available demand has the potential to catch up with international trends. We are projecting a CAGR growth rate in broadband market growth in Ireland of 42pc up to 2009, in line with the Western European average,” Parker explained. At present the Irish market for internet subscriptions stands at 18pc.

According to PwC’s global outlook, the global entertainment and media industry is in its strongest position since 2000 and will increase at a 7.3pc CAGR to US$1.8 trillion in 2009. New spending streams triggered by broadband internet and wireless technologies will account for a significant proportion of total growth in global spending. Video games and internet, in particular, are the fastest growing industry segments.

“The video game market in Ireland is experiencing significant growth and with the launch of the new games consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 the significant online capabilities will have an impact on broadband usage in Ireland. Online and mobile networks will become important distribution channels for games. We are predicting the decline of PC-based games but the strengthening of console and mobile-based games,” Parker told siliconrepublic.com.

By John Kennedy