Lack of competition and innovation in Irish DSL market

29 Jan 2004

It is increasingly likely that DSL will be the only significant platform for the delivery of broadband services to residential and SMEs in the medium term, Forfas warns in a new report. This is far removed from the situation in other countries where there is strong competition between cable and DSL as well as within the DSL market.

In its Broadband Benchmarking Paper published earlier today, Forfas painted a bleak picture. Ireland, it said, ranked 18th out of 21 OECD countries for entry-level DSL products for residential users; 19th for basic DSL for small business and 9th for fibre to large corporations.

Although DSL coverage and availability is increasing, DSL takeup in Ireland is about 0.42pc per capita. Korea remains the leading country in the OECD group surveyed at about 15pc per capita.

As of October 2003, the number of DSL lines installed by all operators was estimated to be 15,700, with approximately 1,000 orders per week being placed.

Forfas said that Ireland ranked 17th out of the group of 21 countries in terms of DSL coverage, ahead of Greece, Portugal and the Czech Republic.

Since the launch of DSL services in May 2002 by both Eircom and Esat BT, DSL coverage has increased to approximately 60pc of the coverage. Forfas warned that this figure is expected to increase more slowly to reach over 82pc by the end of 2008.

In the data revealed in the Benchmarking Paper, Eircom plans to install DSL capability in 170 exchanges by the end of 2004, reaching about 74pc of its customers. The company’s target is to equip 250 exchanges with the technology by 2008. It is understood that Esat BT has installed DSL in 40 exchanges with support from the National Development Plan.

Forfas urged the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources to assess how DSL resale prices can be lowered in order to stimulate competition and market development.

By John Kennedy