Ireland trails in global Cisco broadband study

1 Oct 2009

Ireland is still a broadband “mediocrity,” say critics after a global survey conducted on behalf of Cisco by a team of MBA students from the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and the University of Oviedo’s Economics Department has found.

The country appeared 16th out of the Top 20 countries worldwide with South Korea, Japan and Sweden topping the chart. South Korea now has 97pc broadband penetration, according to the study.

The report pitted Ireland – which is perpetually in a catch-up state – among those countries that need to up their game.

Out of 40 countries studied, Ireland ranked near the bottom of the list in terms of actual broadband quality, in 39th place out of 60 countries.

In terms of broadband quality, Ireland managed to achieve the rank of “meeting the needs of today’s applications” by the skin of its teeth, narrowly avoiding falling into the “below today’s applications threshold” category by just two countries – Italy and Ukraine.

The study found that overall average broadband quality increased across the globe by 49pc to 4.75Mbps and that global average upload increased 69pc to 1.3Mbps. Global average latency decreased by 21pc to 170 milliseconds.

South Korea rose just above last year’s broadband quality leader, Japan, with a 72pc improvement in its Broadband Quality Score (BQS). This improvement has been driven by continuous efforts by the government to strengthen the country’s position as one of the world’s ICT leaders. Combined with higher broadband penetration, South Korea rises above Japan in the global Broadband Leadership rankings.

Japan stands out as having the cities with the highest BQS in the world, with Yokohama and Nagoya leading the BQS rankings and Sapporo not far behind.

Sweden has the highest quality broadband in Europe. It is rapidly catching up with Japan and South Korea as its BQS improves 38pc from 2008. Sweden is the most successful country in closing the broadband quality gap, with residents outside the most populated cities enjoying better quality than those in the cities.

Lithuania, Bulgaria and Latvia come just behind Sweden in quality, boosted by recent city-based fibre rollouts and cable improvements, but low broadband penetration means these countries have yet to break into the broadband leaders’ category.

Thirty-nine countries have a BQS above the threshold required to deliver a consistent quality of experience for the most common web applications today, such as social networking, streaming low-definition video, web communications and sharing small files, such as photos and music. Ireland is at the bottom of this particular list.

“We are not quite sure whether this is Salvador in Brazil or Salvador in El Salvador, but this city is now ranked as the 86th city in the world for the quality of its broadband infrastructure and is one place ahead of Dublin in 87th place for the quality of its broadband,” railed Eamon Wallace of lobby group IrelandOffline.

Cities ranked ahead of Dublin include Ankara, Ljubljana, Bratislava, Talinn, Budapest, Sofia, Vilnius, Riga, Prague, Athens and many Chinese cities. IrelandOffline pointed out that most of these cities are former Soviet states and not noted for their infrastructural achievements.

“The only notable European capital cities that score worse than Dublin are Warsaw and Rome, and not by very much, may I add,” said Wallace. “I also note Soweto in South Africa is currently in 102nd place with a score of 25 and it scores nearer the Dublin score of 28 than Dublin scores against Lisbon with a score of 38.”

IrelandOffline said the survey showed Ireland frozen in broadband mediocrity. “With the lowest telecommunications investment in the developed world (as a percentage of GDP), we are therefore guaranteed to remain in mediocrity.

“The low broadband quality outside our major cities is also noteworthy. Sixty percent of our population currently live outside our major cities and while Ireland scores slightly ahead of Ukraine we are behind Greece, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary right now.

“Furthermore, most of those countries have large-scale fibre-installation plans or installation projects … where we have no concrete plan,” Wallace noted.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Out of 40 countries studied, Ireland has ranked near the bottom of the list in terms of actual broadband quality.

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