ComReg to launch online tool for consumers blasted by broadband advertising

14 May 2013

While broadband access in Ireland now stands at 78pc, more than half of consumers have no idea what speeds they are getting. Telecoms regulator ComReg has confirmed a new test tool is on the way to allow consumers to figure out the difference between real broadband speeds they receive and ‘advertised’ broadband speeds promised by telcos.

The RedC survey of 1,500 consumers nationwide on behalf of ComReg examined access and satisfaction with household telecoms services.

There is still some confusion around broadband speeds in the Irish market, with 50pc of consumers completely unaware of the broadband speed they are receiving.

This is probably due to the marketing wars being played out in newspapers and on TV daily by the various broadband providers, raising questions over the advertised broadband speeds versus the speeds customers receive at the end of the day.

ComReg commissioner Kevin O’Brien confirmed this morning that ComReg will launch an online facility later this year for measuring and publishing broadband speeds across a range of platforms experienced by consumers.

“This initiative will provide greater clarity to consumers in relation to the real broadband speeds received,” O’Brien said.

The news was welcomed by alternative broadband provider Magnet Networks. Magnet CEO Mark Kellett said: “For years we’ve been calling for greater transparency in broadband advertising so we welcome this planned new online facility from ComReg.

“Not only will it help customers make a more informed decision when choosing a broadband provider – one that’s not blinded by advertising and marketing rhetoric – it will also ensure a level playing field for providers in a market that’s overrun by confusing messages.”

The survey found that mobile phone services are the most commonly accessed telecoms services in Ireland at 97pc, while landlines continue their decline at 69pc.

TV ownership stands at 95pc, followed by laptop ownership at 75pc and 54pc of those surveyed carry a smartphone device.

Some 53pc of Irish consumers access Sky for their TV services, followed by 29pc using UPC and 9pc using Saorview digital terrestrial TV (DTT) services.

Household access to broadband now stands at 78pc, including mobile broadband access and access via smartphones.

A third of the consumers surveyed are accustomed to making video calls via services like Skype or Google+ Hangouts.

Irish telecoms: value for money?

In terms of satisfaction with the services provided, 77pc said they were happy with their landline service and 76pc said their mobile phone service was satisfactory.

In terms of choosing telecoms services, consumers in Ireland rank cost and quality as the most important factors when choosing a service.

More than 50pc now pay for bundled telecoms service, with 65pc of consumers living in urban areas opting for bundles.

In terms of the kind of bundles consumers access, triple play bundles of TV, broadband and phone services are still at a nascent stage, with the majority of consumers accessing mostly phone and internet bundles.

O’Brien said the survey’s findings reveal value for money is top of the list for consumers when seeking a telecoms service.

“Household broadband access is now relatively high at 78pc and it is evident that a majority of people regard broadband as a key part of their working, social or educational lives.

“The survey shows that speed of service is ranked highly by consumers when choosing a service,” O’Brien said.

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