Irish broadband subscribers only receive 60pc of advertised speeds

3 Dec 2008

A new report surveying the quality of broadband experienced in Irish cities has found that fixed-line broadband subscribers only receive 60pc of what is advertised, while mobile broadband consumers receive only 64pc of advertised speeds.

The report by Ireland Internet Performance Index, published by Epitiro, a technology provider that installs software agents in networks to measure performance, found that Dublin came seventh out of eight cities in Europe for broadband quality.

The testing by Epitiro focused on the cities of Limerick, Dublin, Galway and Cork, and ISPs (internet service providers) were not forewarned of the mystery shopping exercise.

Satellite devices simulating real residential customer activities connected to the internet via the ISPs every 30 minutes and executed a series of tests to measure broadband performance in typical applications such as video, voice and gaming.

ISPs Perlico and Smart had the best performing internet services in terms of percentages achieved versus ‘up to’ speeds advertised. While Smart achieved 76pc of the fastest service monitored in the report, Perlico achieved 79pc of a 3Mbps service.

Overall, fixed-line ISPs managed to deliver service at an average of 60.2pc of the advertised ‘up to’ speeds.

Mobile broadband had a slightly higher percentage of 63.9pc than fixed broadband. Generally, speeds ranging from 1.7Mbps to 2.4Mbps were routinely measured and compared against mobile package ‘up to’ speeds of 3Mbps.

Ping times for Ireland’s broadband providers average 194 milliseconds, which is way above the 100 milliseconds avid gamers use as a ceiling.

“With no ISPs under the 100 millisecond preference, gaming capabilities in Ireland remain a concern,” the report said.

In particular, it said that mobile broadband has highly undesirable ping times of between 251 milliseconds to 391 milliseconds.

Looking at metrics such as HTTP download speed and DNS resolution time, most fixed-line ISPs offer good service for surfing the net, the report said.

Mobile broadband has slower times, making the service less desirable and not likely forming any competition where fixed line broadband is available.

The report urged businesses and consumers to be aware of their ISPs’ traffic management policies, as high-speed services may be reduced during peak periods for certain types of traffic.

Philip Curneen of Epitiro said the research should spur Irish ISPs into action to improve the quality of their service. “Our tests are extremely robust, carrying out a test on a number of metrics. We carried out expansive tests and these are our findings. They are open to the operators and regulators and for consumer as well to judge.”

The report pointed out that there are knock-on benefits countries can gain from having a good broadband infrastructure. In the US, the Department of Commerce revealed that job growth rates increased in communities with superior broadband services.

The Australian government has linked broadband with improvements in ecology and the environment.

“Quality of service varies significantly across Ireland, yet both ISPs and consumers may not be aware of the considerable differences,” observed Gavin Johns, CEO, Epitiro.

“This report reveals that independent analysis of broadband service levels will be valuable to all concerned in making Irish broadband competitive with Europe and the rest of the world.”

By John Kennedy

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