DSL needed to avert ‘phone crisis, says Horn

5 Nov 2002

The introduction of flat-rate always-on internet access could swamp Ireland’s telephone network and have a serious impact on the quality of service experienced by users, unless there is a big take-up of DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) broadband services, Chris Horn has warned.

The chairman of Iona Technologies and a widely respected figure in Irish business, Horn said that while he was “very happy” about the impending introduction of flat-rate always-on internet access (known as FRIACO), the experience of other countries shows that such unmetered services play havoc with the existing telephone network. With internet users remaining connected to the service for hours at a time and so hogging the bandwidth, those wishing to make voice calls often have problems even getting a dial tone, he said.

Speaking at the e-Forum business breakfast in Dublin this morning, where he and new ‘e-Minister’ Mary Hanafin TD debated the state of Ireland’s information society, Horn commented: “The telephone network was designed for voice calls lasting a few minutes not data transmission lasting 24 or 28 hours or more. The introduction of FRIACO endangers our telephone network.”

Horn’s remedy was to ensure that users adopt DSL technology instead of dialling up the telephone network to make an internet connection.

He was responding to the announcement last week by Communications Minister, Dermot Ahern TD, that he is to speed up the provision of FRIACO access by issuing a directive on the matter. Speaking earlier at the e-Forum, Minister Hanafin had welcomed her colleague’s announcement as a “key element” in encouraging the general public to embrace the internet and drive internet-based services and e-business.

By Brian Skelly