Eircom unveils 'next-generation' broadband


Eircom has unveiled its next-generation high-speed internet network which will give customers lines speeds of up to 8MB.

The telecoms company says the broadband packages, which will be available to both business and consumers,  will be uncongested, enabling Eircom to guarantee more consistent speeds and allow consumers to view higher bandwidth content, such as streaming video or cloud computing.

However, the company's move has been criticised by lobby group Ireland Offline, which said while it welcomed Eircom's addressing of the contention issue, the network wasn't "next generation".

Instead of offering different line speeds, Eircom's entry level product will now be offered at the higher speed 8MB line, and users will instead pay according to a usage cap of 10GB, 30GB and an unlimited package. The limit includes both upload and download usage.

Going over the limits imposed by the packages will result in a charge per gigabyte of €2, with Eircom claiming the monthly charge will be capped at €49.99.

Existing customers will be upgraded to the 8MB line free of charge, Eircom said. However, the speed is not guaranteed to be 8MB, with the maximum speed available on lines dependent on the distance from the exchange.

The service is initially available in Dublin, but Eircom said it would roll out the service to major urban areas throughout the country by the end of 2010.

Chief executive of Eircom Paul Donovan said the broadband service was a demonstration of the company's alignment with the national economic agenda.

"Improved broadband performance is critical for Ireland to realise its objectives as a smart economy," he said.

Ireland Offline said the move from a speed-based model of charging to usage metering was "price gouging" and said the announcement was merely "window dressing".

"The phrase 'next generation' alludes to the next generation of broadband products usually delivered by fibre, this most certainly is not anything like that. The only thing 'Next Generation' about this product is the charging policy," the group said in a statement on its website.

"This is a 200 per cent increase on the average user’s bill for those who can least afford it.

"This is yet another attack on the hard pressed telecommunications consumers of Ireland."