Broadband survey finds most users dissatisfied with service

Research suggests poor broadband is problem in urban as well as rural areas

Nearly 60 per cent of Irish broadband users, many in urban areas, are dissatisfied with the quality of broadband they receive, a survey has revealed.

The study by wireless group Imagine is just one of several recent surveys highlighting the patchy nature of broadband coverage here.

It also comes as the Government deliberates on whether or not to appoint the US firm Granahan McCourt as preferred bidder for the National Broadband Plan.

The Department of Communications broadband team is still evaluating the company’s bid more than four months after it was submitted amid concern the project will proceed on schedule.

The latest survey of attitudes to broadband services here suggests poor broadband is a significant problem not just in rural areas but also in urban areas.

It found almost six-out-of-ten users nationally were not satisfied with their current service while 42 per cent of users - urban and rural - would be prepared to switch provider to get a better service.

It found that 20 per cent of those in rural villages had broadband speeds of less than 10 megabits per second (mbps), while 44 per cent of users did not know what speeds they had.

The survey also found three-out-of-four of broadband users (75 per cent ) experience buffering when using the internet. Across all users, emailing, banking online, social media, online shopping, video streaming and Netflix are the activities most use broadband for, the research found.

"While the current discussion and media attention is focused on the State subsidising the roll-out of high-speed broadband to the 540,000 homes and businesses in rural and more remote areas, the assumption is that the National Broadband Plan's objective of ensuring high speed broadband to everyone will be achieved by commercial investment in the rest of the country," Sean Bolger, chief executive of Imagine Communications said.

“The NBP’s objectives are welcome, but these research findings indicate that despite announcements of commercial investment of over €1 billion in more urban areas, high-speed, reliable broadband has still not been delivered for many,” he said.

“ It is alarming that despite this investment, Comreg’s latest market report indicated that only 75,000 premises have been connected to fibre. The high level of dissatisfaction with existing broadband services revealed in this research, particularly in urban areas, also bears this out,” he noted.

“The reality appears to be that the roll-out of fibre-to-the-home is either not happening at sufficient pace or scale, is too expensive or not attractive enough to consumers to sign-up to,” he said.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times