Saturday 20 December 2014

EU figures just don't stack up with the facts

Published 20/12/2013 | 02:30

SO ONLY 82pc of Irish households can access an internet connection? Sorry, Eurostat, but that just doesn't ring true.

Whatever issues we may have with the pace of rural broadband rollout or restrictions on fibre services, it is simply not credible to state that one in five Irish homes are completely cut off from any internet source.

There are many reasons for this. For a start, some 92pc of 'premises' (including businesses) with landlines can get an internet connection via those lines.

This figure, although cited by Eircom, isn't contested by the telecoms regulator.

Then there are the further estimated 200,000 'premises', including businesses, which are covered under the state- subsidised National Broadband Scheme.

Although this doesn't connect every home, it does plug large rural gaps.

So how did the European Commission come up with the figure that one in five homes has zero internet access?

The answer lies in the organisation's methodology. In short, it conducted a survey. It asked people for feedback on their internet access. It is a fair bet that many respondents decided to interpret the question of internet access as one of 'acceptable' internet access.

Being unhappy with a slow, one-megabit internet service is understandable. And people who have access to internet connectivity from sources such as mobile dongles are right to protest that they are nevertheless being left behind because they cannot get a 30mbs fibre connection.

But that is very different from stating that they have zero online access, as this report seeks to present.

There are surely far fewer Irish households than one in five which do not have any internet access whatsoever.

If it were one in 10, I'd still regard that as surprisingly high. But it might be a little more believable.

This report from the European Commission is likely to cause more confusion than clarity.

Irish Independent

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