Ireland has second-highest cost per megabit in EU

14 Mar 2012

New research based on the Ookla Net Index reveals that Ireland is the second most expensive country in the EU for each megabit of data at US$8.85, only trumped by Cyprus at US$16.03.

The median price is in Belgium, which is in 14th place at US$4.19 – half what we pay in Ireland.

One of the main reasons suggested for the price hike is Ireland’s reliance on mobile broadband.

If the average cost per mobile broadband subscriber is US$25 a month then each megabit is being delivered at US$12 a month, says Eamon Wallace of IrelandOffline.

The Ookla survey says Ireland is 51st in the world for download speeds and 24th out of 27 in the EU.

The research also shows that towns with populations of between 5,000 and 20,000 are beginning to outperform Ireland’s main cities.

Wallace warns that the lack of a clear, co-ordinated broadband strategy is causing residential areas served by players like UPC to have even greater quality broadband than core employment zones.

This unbalanced situation along with the lack of decent, reasonably priced broadband are two of the country’s biggest communications problems today, Wallace argued.

Wallace said ComReg’s insistence on 5MHz channels for fourth-generation (4G) LTE will cause problems into the future.

Urban-rural divide

“The urban-rural divide continues to expand exponentially, rural dwellers are being left behind with no action being taken to address this divide, and where recent regulatory decisions are unlikely to address the matter,” Wallace said.

“The reliance on 3G as a solution is clearly flawed. Any potential LTE solution is being mis-regulated out to the margins. Bandwidth (spectrum) is like a pipe, the more bandwidth the higher the speeds can be delivered over the ‘pipe’.  

“The norm in most jurisdictions is for 20Mhz wide channels through allocation and sharing, however, ComReg want minuscule 5Mhz channels for LTE and will not permit RAN Sharing.

“This fragmented spectrum will only allow LTE to deliver similar performance to 3G today, without the worst of the the cell sector disappearing (shrinking) effect at night. The only solution, in rural areas, is to mandate one provider to build the infrastructure and all other mobile providers can then use this infrastructure.

“This policy should deliver something akin to a modern broadband service for rural dwellers. This sharing solution is known as RAN Sharing and is an urgent requirement in most of Ireland right now,” Wallace said.

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