Eircom’s broadband share dips below 50pc mark

21 Dec 2006

Eircom’s share of the broadband market in Ireland has fallen below 50pc for the first time, new figures from the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) show.

The data comes from the telecoms regulator’s quarterly report for the three months from July to September of this year. It found that 49pc of broadband subscribers use a DSL connection from Eircom for their broadband. Competing technologies such as cable, fixed wireless, satellite and fibre optic links increased their share of the broadband market and now comprise 27pc of the total.

Eircom’s overall market share of the fixed-line market also fell in the third quarter, ComReg found. It dropped a further 2pc to 72pc in market share by revenue, the regulator said. Overall, revenue for the combined telecoms sector — including fixed-line, mobile and cable broadcasting — was €1.1bn in the quarter.

Interestingly, according to data released by BT Ireland yesterday ahead of the ComReg figures, BT now has close to 53,000 residential customers connected its broadband service. The company claimed that its bundled broadband and talk package launch in July had boosted its share of the home broadband market, with around 1,000 new customers signing up each week and reportedly winning one third of all new broadband subscribers in Ireland.

The figures from ComReg show 436,000 broadband subscribers at the end of September, equivalent to a 10.3pc penetration rate of the total population.

In all, 44pc of all internet users in the country use broadband, the statistics show. In a totally unsurprising development, broadband subscribers were found to get more from the services they use, compared with those on dial-up. Although searching is still the number one online activity for both camps, with 72pc and 65pc respectively, broadband users are far more likely to download content, play games or use low-cost phone services.

Telecoms lobby group IrelandOffline spokesperson Damien Mulley commented: “The latest ComReg figures confirm that Ireland is not improving when it comes to broadband penetration when 14 other countries who were already head of us in the OECD have moved even further ahead of us. 2006 was one of the worst years in Ireland when it came to international comparisons and judging by the ComReg growth patterns 2007 could even be worse. Irish consumers deserve a better Christmas present from ComReg.”

In addition, there are now close to 4.5 million active mobile subscriptions in the country, according to ComReg. Its findings show a mobile phone penetration rate of 106pc, meaning there are more handsets than there are people in the Republic. The total amount of talk-time during the quarter was close to 1,800 million minutes and 1,400 million text messages were sent during the same period.

More than 75,000 mobile subscribers switched service provider during the third quarter, bringing their old number with them. All told, close to 700,000 numbers have been ported between mobile networks since this facility was introduced in June 2003.

Around a million households now subscribe to some form of pay TV service in Ireland, equivalent to 71pc of households with a TV, ComReg found. Digital TV subscriptions — either by satellite or cable — accounted for 70pc of the total. This equates to almost 50pc of all TV households in Ireland, in the year when the Government finally launched its own pilot for free-to-air digital TV.

By Gordon Smith