Almost 70pc of Irish connections meet global definition of broadband

15 Sep 2017

Shannon Bridge, Limerick. Image: Sean O’Dwyer/Shutterstock

Good news for the connected, but meaningless if you are on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Around 68.7pc of actual broadband connections in Ireland are now greater than 30Mbps, just ahead of the accepted international definition of 25Mbps.

This is according to the latest ComReg quarterly report, which also revealed that overall, 80pc of all fixed broadband subscriptions in Ireland are greater than 10Mbps.

‘I am determined to keep this momentum up until every home and business in Ireland has access to a high-speed broadband solution’

This should give infrastructure planners and politicians a nice fuzzy feeling, but just for a while. Around the corner, the accepted international definition of broadband of 25Mbps as set out in 2015 by the FCC might be soon given an upgrade to 100Mbps. What does this mean? Grab your shovels, boys and girls! But we’ll allow them all to bask for a little while.

The latest quarterly report from ComReg doesn’t mention the 1m people or 600,000 premises that still require intervention by the National Broadband Plan. A deal between Eir and the Irish Government reduced the intervention area from 900,000, with Eir pledging to connect 300,000 premises to fibre by 2018.

The report does, however, show a 0.4pc increase in the number of fixed broadband subscriptions during the quarter, up 3.6pc compared with last year.

So progress is happening, but what people really want is to know when the National Broadband Plan will kick off. Three operators – Eir, Siro and Enet – have been shortlisted for the project, and contract winners were due to have been announced in June. Will it be before the end of 2017 that the plan will kick off in earnest?

Communications Minister Denis Naughten, TD, pointed out that since he took office two years ago, there has been a 38pc overall increase in the quality of broadband services.

He also said that since starting at a low base in the last six months, there has been a 150pc increase in the number of pure fibre connections.

“This independent report clearly shows that more homes are getting access to broadband and that broadband services are getting faster. I am determined to keep this momentum up until every home and business in Ireland has access to a high-speed broadband solution,” Naughten promised.

The internet of things in Ireland takes shape

Aside from fibre broadband, the telecoms landscape in Ireland continues to shift, with total voice minutes down 0.7pc while mobile minutes now form the majority of voice minutes, at 77.3pc.

Average mobile subscribers used 214 minutes (down 2.2pc) and sent 84 text messages (down 14.7pc).

The upshot of this is that services such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are killing text messaging. As text messages fell 14.7pc, there was a corresponding 73.1pc jump in the average amount of data used of 4.1GB per subscriber.

The ComReg report also showed that 45.1pc of mobile subscribers were using 4G networks, up from 33.8pc last year.

It seems that the internet of things is gathering pace, with machine-to-machine (M2M) subscriptions in Ireland rising to 746,803 connected devices – that’s an increase of 23.1pc on last year. We’re telling you, the machines are coming!

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years