Only 7,623 houses have fibre broadband despite claims

‘Shocking’ ComReg figures show take-up of fibre broadband has been extremely limited

ComReg’s new report shows just 7,623 households and businesses are using  fibre broadband despite industry claims of much higher take-up

ComReg’s new report shows just 7,623 households and businesses are using fibre broadband despite industry claims of much higher take-up

 

Amid all the hype around fibre broadband and a welter of company announcements about its rollout, ComReg figures, released on Thursday, show there are only 7,623 households and businesses in Ireland actually benefiting from a pure fibre connection.

The figure contained in the regulator’s latest quarterly review of the telecoms sector here was described as “shocking” by wholesale broadband provider Enet.

“I can understand why consumers are utterly frustrated with our industry. One would have thought that Ireland is floating on a bed of fibre, such is the frequency and verbosity of press releases citing fibre connections,” the company’s chief executive Conal Henry told The Irish Times.

“We’ve all seen them – 1.9 million here, 500,000 thousand there but today ComReg have stated that there are actually only 7,623 subscribers benefitting from a genuine fibre connection,” he said.

Fibre can deliver broadband speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps), outstripping all other technologies, and is viewed as the gold standard of internet connectivity.

Plan

However, companies typically conflate “premises passed” by the new technology with those actually connected to it, giving a rather misleading impression of who is benefitting.

Telcos Eir and Siro, which are vying with Enet for the Government’s National Broadband Plan (NPB), both claim to have passed about 40,000 premises with their fibre technologies but judging by the latest ComReg figures the take-up by consumers has been limited.

ComReg’s report, which relates to the fourth quarter of 2016, suggests fibre to the premise (FTTP) connections did, however, grow by 38 per cent last year, albeit from an extremely low base.

The disparity in broadband quality across Ireland has created what some refer to as a “digital apartheid”.

The NBP, which will connect rural homes with limited broadband access, is likely to utilise fibre technology to insure against the early obsolescence of the scheme.

ComReg’s latest report shows that approximately 78 per cent of all fixed broadband subscriptions in Ireland were equal to or greater than 10Mbps up from 72.7 per cent in 2015.

Almost 65 per cent of subscriptions were equal to or greater than 30Mbps, which is the minimum threshold laid down in the NBP.

Overall, the report said fixed broadband subscriptions increased marginally to 1.36 million last year.

Subscriptions

ComReg said the estimated household (fixed and mobile) broadband penetration rate is 86 per cent, higher than the EU average of 83 per cent.

At the end of December last year, there were 5.9 million mobile subscriptions, an increase of 0.5 per cent on the last quarter with the mobile penetration rate put at 127 per cent.

The figures also show nearly 42 per cent of mobile users were actively using next-generation 4G Networks.

Average revenue per user in Ireland’s mobile market, a metric used by companies to assess the health of the market, was €23.01 per month in the final quarter of 2016, down from €24.62 per month in 2015.

Declining mobile revenues is likely to be a reflection of a number of factors including increased sales of bundled products as well as reductions in mobile roaming and termination rates, ComReg said.