Smart plans to ‘drag’ Ireland to top of EU broadband league


3 Mar 2008

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The term ‘drag’ adequately sums up Ireland’s broadband progress to date thanks to the never-ending dithering of politicians and telcos.

Now Smart Telecom says it intends to ‘drag’ Ireland kicking and screaming into the top 10 list of European countries for broadband.

It will be a tall order but it will make a nice change to see some kind of ambition and vision enter the debate, rather than recrimination and excuse-making.

The European Competitive Telecommunications Association’s broadband penetration figures for June to August 2007 placed Ireland 12th in the list of 15 European countries.

Over the weekend, the company revealed it is launching a suite of new high-speed residential packages consisting of 4Mbps, 6Mbps, 8Mbps and 10Mbps services, as well as revealing a new pricing formula which will appeal to residential customers.

The 4Mbps product will cost €15 a month plus line rental, the 6Mbps product will cost €20 a month plus line rental, the 8Mbps product will cost €25 a month plus line rental and the 10Mbps product will cost €35 a month plus line rental.

The company also said it will be launching a 15Mbps product for €45 per month plus line rental (€25.36), bringing the cost to €70.36 a month.

“There’s been a lot of column inches in the media and debate amongst government agencies and various lobby groups about two issues: lack of high-speed broadband and the price,” Smart Telecom chief executive, Pio Murtagh, told siliconrepublic.com.

“We’ve taken the bull by the horns. We’ve taken our new next-generation network (NGN) and we’re now in a position to release products across our unbundled local loop platforms that are faster than anything that’s out there at the moment. We’re upping the standard product and we’re upping our top 15Mbps residential product with no contention.”

Murtagh says a policy of aggressive pricing will help to bring affordable broadband to people in residential areas who want to use it for leisure purposes.

“The main concern I have for the broadband market is demand. To counter this, we’re putting it out there at a price level for people to come and get it and in a way that’s not too far from what’s happening in Europe.”

Murtagh explained Smart has unbundled 37 exchanges and now has access to 550,000 addressable lines, about one-third of lines in Ireland.

“We were deadly serious when we talked about going back into the residential space,” Murtagh concludes. “We’ll be launching our new IPTV platform to the Irish market in the coming months.”

By John Kennedy