Speed is most important issue for internet users


10 Feb 2009

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Some 43pc of internet users prize speed of connection above other factors such as security, quality of connection or cost, according to a wide-ranging study of consumers commissioned by the Commission for Communications Regulation. However, nearly half of broadband users don’t know what speed they are paying for.

The study revealed that some 64pc of the Irish population are now online – the highest level to date – and 82pc of users access the internet from home, while 24pc of users also access it at work.

The Millward Brown IMS study, which covered over 1,000 people aged between 15 and 74, revealed that 30pc of Irish adults rely only on their mobile phones, rising to 46pc among 25-34 year-olds.

Eircom – with 79pc of the market – is the largest residential fixed-line provider in the country, followed by Perlico with 6pc, BT with 5pc and Chorus/UPC and Imagine with 2pc each.

Eircom’s share of the fixed-line market only fell marginally from 82pc in 2005 to 79pc in 2008.

In terms of mobile, the survey showed an increase in the proportion of mobile phone users opting for prepay. Some 84pc of Irish females are on prepay, while 95pc of 15-24 year-olds are also on prepay. Meteor’s customers are the most likely to opt for prepay than any other operators’ customers.

Ninety percent of Irish mobile users only carry one handset and SIM card, while 9pc admit to carrying two of each and 1pc carry three handsets and SIM cards.

The average monthly spend on mobile phones countrywide is €41.64. The average monthly spend is higher amongst males between 25–34 and 35-49 of €45 and €49 respectively.

Those with a monthly subscription spend twice as much as prepay customers (€74 v €33.

Vodafone’s share of the mobile market has declined to 40pc of the market from 47pc a year ago, O2 has risen only marginally remaining around the 33pc mark, while Meteor has grown from 18pc a year ago to 27pc of today’s market.

In terms of internet usage, 36pc of Irish users access the internet via desktop PCs, while laptop usage has grown from 13pc a year ago to 20pc today.

In terms of the type of access, some 65pc with internet access claim to use a broadband connection, while 28pc say they have a narrowband connection. Only 4pc don’t know what type of connection they have.

Millward Brown IMS was unable to provide a breakdown of platform types due to some “definitional issues” with the data.

Eircom is the largest provider of home internet access with 55pc of the market, followed by Chorus/UPC with 7pc, BT with 6pc, O2 with 5pc, 3 Ireland with 5pc, Vodafone with 4pc, Perlico with 4pc, Clearwire with 4pc, Digiweb with 2pc and Smart with 1pc.

In terms of download speeds, there is a lack of awareness of speeds among people who pay for broadband. Half of broadband users are unable to tell what speed their provider is giving them.

Of those who do know what broadband speed they are getting, 22pc of the market get between 1Mbps and 2Mbps, while 20pc of the market get between 3Mbps and 6Mbps. Only 3pc of the market access more than 6Mbps.

In terms of voice over IP, 44pc of the market are aware they can make cheaper internet-based phone calls over Skype, and most users tend to be ABC1 males between 18 and 24.

Skype is the most predominant VoIP provider in Ireland, used by 72pc of the market, followed by Eircom at 14pc, BT at 6pc, Blueface at 1pc and Digiweb at 1pc.

There is now universal ownership of televisions in Ireland, with the average household owning two TV sets. Nearly a quarter of homes have three or more TV sets.

Some 56pc of TV owners in Ireland have standard-definition TVs, followed by 24pc with high-definition and 13pc with both.

Nearly one in five TV set owners have access to a personal video recorder, with the highest amongst those of the ABC1 social class living in Dublin.

By John Kennedy