Ireland far behind EU average on broadband speeds

31 May 2011

Despite making considerable progress in recent years in getting broadband numbers up, Ireland is showing signs of falling behind on broadband speeds and quality.

A new EU study showed that 13.4pc of the share of fixed-line broadband in use in Ireland is equal to or above 10Mbps. The EU average is 38.9pc.

Other data for Ireland shows that 63pc of Irish people regularly use the internet, a little less than the EU average of 65pc.

This information comes from a Scoreboard published today by the European Commission showing the performance of the EU and Member States in delivering on the agreed targets of the Digital Agenda for Europe, one year after it was agreed.

Ireland tops the EU for government services available online and Irish business is way ahead of other countries with its 87pc take-up of eGovernment.

Super-fast networks

However, all the EU member states, including Ireland, are lagging behind in the rollout of new super-fast broadband networks.

This is only available in some European cities, although there is some work going on to upgrade existing cable networks.

In Ireland, 13.4pc of the share of fixed broadband is equal to or above 10Mbps, below the EU average of 38.9pc.

“A year after the launch of the Digital Agenda I note progress,” said Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Digital Agenda. “However, member states, industry, civil society and the Commission need to do more if we want maximise the agenda’s potential for retaining Europe’s competitiveness, stimulating innovation, and creating jobs and prosperity.

“I call on all to consider the massive long-term benefit of acting decisively now, especially in high-speed broadband,” Kroes said.

Is féidir linn!

“The EU Digital Agenda Scoreboard 2011 is very encouraging in the context of its finding that broadband use and internet penetration continues to grow in Ireland,” explained Ronan Lupton, chairman of ALTO, the communications industry representative group.

“It is still a case of a lot done, more to do, and ‘is féidir linn’”.

Lupton stated that incumbent plans to invest €20m in a trial of ultra-high speed fibre-optic broadband services capable of data speeds of up to 150Mbps may be too little, too late. The pilot, which is due to begin in 2011, is targeted at 10,000 residences and businesses.

“Bring that statistic forward – that means that the prospect of having ultra-high-speed, fibre-optic broadband services available nationwide would conservatively take until about 2019.

“If ever there was a case against considered divestment in key state assets, a glance at Eircom should be enough to make the Government sit up and think long and hard,” Lupton said.

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