Republic wedded close to bottom of EU broadband league


Consumer take-up of broadband services increased faster in the Republic than anywhere else in Europe during the final three months of 2004.

But Ireland is still wedded close to the bottom of the EU broadband league, according to the latest statistics.

A European broadband scorecard compiled by ECTA (European Competitive Telecommunications Association) shows that 7 per cent of lines in the Republic were upgraded for DSL services.

This compares to 31 per cent of telephone lines in Denmark and 25 per cent in the Netherlands, the two EU states with the highest penetration of broadband DSL at the end of 2004.

DSL is a technology that provides high speed internet services to homes and business at speeds between 10 and 30 times faster than dial-up internet services on a standard phone line. It is the most common type of broadband technology in use within the EU and is considered vital in raising competitiveness.

Broadband penetration grew faster in the Republic than in any of the original 15 EU member states in the final quarter of 2004. The number of subscribers grew 112 per cent in the quarter as the main telecoms firms continued to offer a range of cut-price and free trial offers for consumers.

Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Greece were the three other star performers in the survey in terms of growth in broadband take-up. DSL subscription grew 54 per cent, 39 per cent and 50 per cent respectively in these States.

But the survey highlights the Republic's continued weakness in terms of "unbundling the local loop", the process of opening an incumbent's local access telephone network to competition.

Less than 1 per cent of rish DSL lines are being provided by firms that have managed to "unbundle the local loop." This compares with 24 per cent of lines in Sweden, 25 per cent in the Netherlands, and 25 per cent in France.