Imagine Broadband boss Sean Bolger wants to see broadband penetration in Ireland increase from the present 7pc to a whopping 30pc in a year’s time, he told siliconrepublic.com. The present EU average is 12pc.
Bolger also warned Eircom that if the company doesn’t improve its wholesale offering he will look at transferring his customer base to an alternative infrastructure.
Speaking with siliconrepublic.com at yesterday’s launch of a ‘free broadband for 20 hours a week’ service that will come with a €9.99 monthly basic rate for local and national calls, Bolger lamented that Ireland is currently lagging behind the European average. For an additional €9.99 a month, users can subscribe for unlimited broadband access.
Bolger said that the new service will not only entice existing broadband users but the 330,000 Irish dial-up users. He maintained that once consumers actually got broadband they would be loathe to give it up.
Challenged on the low PC penetration rate, Bolger said he believed that the availability of broadband could help boost PC penetration.
“With dial-up there’s not an awful lot you can do with a PC except access the net and get email. With broadband you can do so much more like get TV in demand, download games and movies and communicate much more freely,” Bolger said.
When added up, Bolger said that Imagine’s service was €20 a month cheaper than Eircom and this adds up to savings of up to €300 a year for the average telecoms customer.
He told siliconrepublic.com that the company is planning to offer a similar service for business users for €30, including free broadband and flat-rate local and national calls. “They just need to show that they make on average €100 worth of calls per month to prove they are a business.”
He said that Imagine’s subsidiary Gaelic Telecom is putting together a free broadband package for primary schools around Ireland.
On Eircom’s wholesale service, upon which Imagine’s service is currently offered, Bolger said he wasn’t happy with Eircom’s approach to wholesale. “I’m disappointed with the speed that local loop unbundling is happening. This move is targeted at seriously upsetting Eircom’s hold on the broadband market.
“The key is to get more Irish people using broadband. The more people that use broadband, the more infrastructural services that will enter the market.
“If Eircom doesn’t seriously improve its wholesale offering we will have to look at transferring customers to an alternative infrastructure,” Bolger said.
By John Kennedy