Figures show the changing world of Irish broadband
THE broadband landscape in Ireland is changing very quickly, as the latest figures from the Irish telecoms regulator show. The rise of Sky has disrupted a large chunk of the market, while regional wireless broadband operators are starting to struggle. Here is what has happened and why.
1. Sky has grabbed 6pc of the Irish fixed broadband market in under 12 months.
The satellite operator has taken market share off everyone bar UPC, but is hitting Eircom hardest. This is not surprising, as the service runs over Eircom telephone lines, making it an easy replacement option. Sky has well over 500,000 television subscribers. This figure far exceeds UPC's 330,000 digital television customers, although UPC's network footprint is smaller than Sky's. With this kind of market impact, Sky should logically be contemplating a mobile operation here. But the company has not yet announced any intention to go down this road.
2. 'Wireless' and satellite broadband operators are getting squeezed out.
In small towns and villages, the only broadband operator available is often one that mounts equipment on your roof and operates on 'line of sight' with a mast somewhere in the vicinity. Where even this service isn't available, a satellite option – stick a satellite in your garden or on your roof – is sometimes used. Those players are starting to fade, probably because Eircom is slowly improving its rural network.
3. UPC has closed the (customer) gap with Eircom.
In the last three years, UPC has gone from being a fraction of Eircom's broadband subscriber base to a close competitor. It now has more fixed-line broadband customers in Ireland than all other operators combined, bar Eircom. It has done this despite only being available to about half of Irish homes. Its pitch is speed: it is far faster than any of its main rivals. The Irish (fixed) broadband market now stands as follows: Eircom 37pc (-3pc), UPC 29pc (+1pc), Vodafone 16pc (-1pc), Sky 6pc (+6pc), Imagine 3pc (-1pc), Digiweb 2pc (nc).
Of course, the overall phone line broadband market is considerably larger than just Eircom, with the company earning extra money from other operators using its network. Overall, there are still 790,000 phone line broadband customers here (divided between different players using Eircom's lines), compared to 351,000 cable broadband customers.
4. There are still over 8,000 people using 'dial-up' internet.
It's true. There are 8,281 'narrowband' (meaning pre-broadband 'dial-up') internet customers in Ireland.
5. There has been a massive jump in average Irish broadband speeds in the last 12 months.
Some 57pc of all broadband subscriptions here are now over 10Mbs, according to Comreg. A year ago, it was just 32pc. And 38pc of Irish broadband subscriptions are now over 30Mbs, compared to 21pc a year ago.