Eircom trials 5Mbps broadband service

23 Nov 2005

From next January, Eircom and its various wholesale customers will be introducing new broadband packages with download speeds of up to 5Mbps and 512Kbps upstream. So far no prices have been indicated for the new packages.

Siliconrepublic.com has learned that wholesale customers of Eircom’s bitstream broadband have received a letter from the company informing them of the impending upgrade.

It is understood Eircom has told other licensed operators (OLOs) it will be testing the new speeds in four exchanges between 5 and 12 December and, if the trials are successful, all OLO customers will be upgraded in January.

Already one wholesale customer of Eircom’s bitstream service has indicated its various product offerings for January based on the upgrade.

Netsource has revealed that its Office@Home product will increase from the existing 1Mbps downstream and 128Kbps upstream to 2Mbps downstream and 256Kbps upstream; its Origin product will increase from 1Mbps and 128Kbps to 2Mbps downstream and 256Kbps upstream; its Origin Plus 2Mbps service will be boosted to 3Mbps downstream and 384Kbps upstream; its Enterprise product will increase from 3Mbps downstream to 4Mbps upstream; and its top level 4Mbps Corporate service will increase from 4Mbps downstream and 256Kbps upstream to 5Mbps downstream and 512Kbps upstream.

Netsource sales and marketing director Louise McKeown commented: “With the introduction of new speeds, particularly with respect to upstream speeds, solutions such as voice over internet protocol [VoIP] becomes a more realistic proposition. A number of clients have a requirement for higher broadband speeds and these upgrades will provide our current and future clients with a pure business-class broadband service that will facilitate teleworking, private networking, video conferencing, online backup and of course VoIP.”

At least one other OLO has confirmed with siliconrepublic.com that it has received the letter revealing the impending trials.

Eircom’s move to higher speeds has been long anticipated as well as an impending move into ADSL2+ services.

An Eircom spokesman said that while the company could not comment on the trials or proposed speed increases: “Any product that’s available on Eircom’s network and offered by another operator will also be available to Eircom customers. We will make an announcement in due course.”

The news of a potential speed increase was welcomed by broadband lobby group IrelandOffline. Spokesman Damien Mulley commented: “Increases in speed, especially in upload speed are always to be welcomed. Twice now Eircom reacted to competition in the market by giving people speed increases, a very obvious example of why competition is important and shouldn’t be stiffled.

“Even in the past week competition has shown that consumers can get up to 24Mbps on their lines when this time last year, with a lot less competition, consumers were offered 1Mbps. When the Commission for Communications Regulation and the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources eventually sort out the local loop unbundling mess I think we can expect to see these speed jumps become a very regular occurrence,” Mulley said.

Another OLO, Imagine, welcomed the trials. A spokesman said: “Imagine is pleased to see that Ireland is starting to get serious on broadband, with affordable prices and better speeds. This is a very good day and Eircom’s plans to introduce 5Mbps broadband is a vindication of Imagine’s aggressive pricing policy and is a symbol that Eircom is now finally taking the Irish broadband market seriously.”

By John Kennedy