UPDATE: In an initiative aimed at the next wave of broadband customers, Eircom today introduced what it says is the first ‘time-based’ broadband product to the Irish market called Eircom Broadband Time. Eircom has also reduced wholesale prices for other operators who support the service.
Offering 20 hours of broadband access per month, Eircom Broadband Time will be available at a promotional price of €19.99 per month (incl VAT) for new broadband customers who sign up between July and September. After the 20-hour allowance, customers will be charged 4c per minute for additional usage.
The company says its Broadband Time product is aimed at attracting lower usage dial-up customers to the broadband market. At 1MB, the speed is 20 times that of dial-up and works out at €1 per hour.
“Our research indicates that there is a demand for a more flexible entry-level broadband product,” explained Eircom commercial director, David McRedmond.
Eircom says it is also introducing wholesale price reductions for other operators to support these new products. For example, for a wholesale price of €12.55 for up to 20 hours usage for the time-based product, and promotional subsidies of €115 per customer, payable to other operators.
The company says it is also introducing a new promotional price for its ‘always on’ Eircom standard broadband product of €29.99 per month for first-time customers that sign up between July and September.
“Eircom’s Broadband Time product will attract lighter internet users who have yet to experience broadband. Eircom’s wholesale price reductions and promotional subsidies for other operators will further increase competition and growth in the broadband market,” McRedmond said.
However, the introduction of the time-based service prompted criticism from rival operator Smart Telecom and broadband lobby group IrelandOffline.
Oisin Fanning, chief executive of Smart Telecom, said that the service wasn’t a fixed price, hovering between €19 and €35 a month. “Broadband is about always being online. Broadband services like email and messaging work best when you’re always online. That’s the point of broadband.
“Eircom has shot itself in the foot with this product. Rather than advance Ireland as a broadband nation, Eircom has managed to mangle the idea of broadband with this product,” Fanning said.
IrelandOffline argued that Eircom was effectively turning back the clock, so to speak, insofar as it resembled the dial-up regime prior to the introduction of FRIACO (fixed dial-up charges). “To charge €20 for 20 hours and then include a €2.40 an hour penalty for staying online and enjoying the benefits of broadband is scandalous. Eircom is introducing entirely artificial pricing mechanisms with this product,” stated committee member Aidan Whyte.
“Unlike a phone call, it costs Eircom nothing for a broadband connection to be permanently connected. This is little more than a cynical ploy by Eircom to price gouge consumers new to broadband who know no better,” Whyte said.
By John Kennedy