Revealed: The deplorable state of broadband in Ireland

15 Nov 201644 Shares

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There is something rotten with the state of broadband in Ireland. Image: Gabriel12/Shutterstock

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New data reveals that only 25pc of homes in rural Ireland are receiving speeds of 30Mbps or more, the minimal speed set out in the National Broadband Plan.

The Switcher.ie study paints a far from rosy picture of broadband speeds, indicating that National Broadband Plan intervention in the country’s poor broadband infrastructure might need to be expanded.

“The data shows that almost one-third of actual internet connections in Ireland are less than 5Mbps, which when contrasted with ComReg data, shows that there is a real difference between what people are signing up for and what they’re getting,” said Sean Atkinson, CEO of Siro, the ESB/Vodafone joint venture.

‘It would take someone living in Legan in Longford over three and a half hours to download a two-hour HD movie, while people in Drimnagh in Dublin 12 can do this in just under 6 minutes’
– EOIN CLARKE

The study comes a day after a Vodafone Ireland study found that one-third of businesses in Ireland would consider relocating just to get an adequate broadband service.

The National Broadband Plan seeks to address 1.8m citizens who are on the wrong side of the digital divide by providing a minimal service of 30Mbps. A tender is expected to be awarded in June 2017 but this could be delayed.

The plan was recently augmented from 757,000 to 927,000 homes and businesses because 170,000 premises in need of broadband were overlooked.

The Switcher.ie study suggests even more intervention could be required.

The speed-test data comes from broadband users who ran a grand total of 26,829 consumer speed tests during a 12-month period (1 August 2015 – 31 July 2016 inclusive), using Switcher.ie’s speed-testing tool. The speed tests include a combination of wired and Wi-Fi home broadband tests. The data excludes mobile broadband speed tests.

Some 37pc of the total tests collected showed download speeds of less than 5 Mbps.

The average speed across all speed tests taken in the period was 23.75 Mbps.

The study reveals that slowest broadband area in Ireland – an area that gets some form of broadband, that is – is Legan in Longford, with an average download speed of 1.98Mbps, while the fastest area is Drimnagh in Dublin 12, with an average of 72.15Mbps.

The data shows that Dublin is the county with the fastest average broadband speed, at 44.85Mbps.

Longford is the slowest county, with an average broadband speed of 7.25Mbps; while of the 20 slowest areas, four are in Cork, three are in Cavan, and two are in Galway.

The lightning speeds

Revealed: The deplorable state of broadband in Ireland

The highest speed out of all the tests was 989.15Mbps, which was recorded in Ballon in Co Carlow. This clearly demonstrates the progress that has been made so far in terms of quality broadband access, and the potential impact once the National Broadband Plan is fully rolled out.

Aside from the type of connection you have and where you live, there are a number of other factors that can affect the speeds you can achieve. These include distance from the exchange, where the router is placed within your home and even the time of day you use the internet.

Whether or not you’re connected directly to the router or using Wi-Fi will also have an impact, as will the device you’re using.

Digital divide

Revealed: The deplorable state of broadband in Ireland

“The results from the speed-test data highlight the digital divide in Ireland. We’re seeing lightning speeds in certain areas, largely where there has already been investment made in fibre to the home networks,” said Eoin Clarke, managing director of Switcher.ie.

“However, in many areas we are still a long way off these kinds of speeds and slow broadband is a frustration that thousands of people in these places have to deal with every day.

“In practical terms, it would take someone living in Legan in Longford over three and a half hours to download a two-hour HD movie, while people in Drimnagh in Dublin 12 can do this in just under 6 minutes. This is a stark difference that could have a real impact on quality of life for people in areas with sluggish speeds. And it can have an impact on house prices, education and local business, too.

“Obviously, investment from commercial providers, and roll-out of the National Broadband Plan is needed in order to bring every premises onto a level playing field.”

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com