ComReg clarifies net stats

19 Mar 2004

ComReg has defended its decision to release a statement that almost 50pc of Irish households now accessed the internet. This figure only represents 83pc of those polled for the quarterly survey from which the figures were taken.

Based on the results from all of the people surveyed, total domestic internet access stands at 38pc. This constitutes a rise of 1pc on the previous quarter, whereas the statistic of 49pc usage – taken from the fixed-line subset only – offers the more substantial quarterly growth rate of 5pc.

In the quarterly survey, prepared by Amarach Consulting on behalf of the regulator, respondents were divided into two sections: one for users with fixed-line telephones only and another, the total amount that included those without a fixed-line connection.

According to a spokesman for ComReg, this method of measuring internet usage is consistent with the way it is done throughout the EU and the OECD. The spokesman added: “The figures are both going in the same direction; there’s increased internet usage by fixed line and increased internet usage by other means.”

In a footnote on the page of the report with the internet usage data, ComReg noted that the Internet penetration figure was “nationally representative of the adult population with a fixed line, with a margin of error of +/- 3pc”.

In its press release issued to announce the report’s findings, ComReg had included the higher figure only. Although 49pc is clearly a more impressive amount than 38pc, it does not tell the whole story; the data appears to suggest that 17pc of Irish homes – almost one in five – do not have a fixed telephone line.

Furthermore, using the higher figure would exclude those accessing the internet over non-dial-up means such as satellite, cable or wireless. Only last week, ComReg awarded 38 wireless licences to eight different nationwide service providers, with the clear aim of providing an alternative to DSL, which requires a fixed-line telephone connection.

By Gordon Smith