We pay up to 300pc more for our broadband than some Europeans
BROADBAND is up to three times more expensive in Ireland than in some European countries.
And Irish people are among the most likely to limit internet use and international calls on their phones because of cost fears.
A new Europe-wide study has found it costs up to 400pc more to access the internet depending on where you live.
The cheapest available standard broadband (12-30Mbps) costs €31.40 per month in Ireland which is the third highest in Europe behind Cyprus (€46.20) and Spain (€38.70).
The cost here compares with just €10.30 per month in Lithuania and €11.20 in Romania.
And prices also vary enormously within countries as the same broadband speed can cost you over €70 in Ireland with a different provider, while in Poland the price ranges from €20 to €140 per month.
Consumers suffer from a geographic lottery, with huge variations in price and quality of broadband showing there still is no single market for the internet, said European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes.
"There is no good reason why one person should pay over four times more than another in Europe for the same broadband," she said.
Consumers also only get three-quarters of the internet speed they sign up for on average, and the gap remains as wide as it was two years ago, showing the need to give people stronger rights.
The EU is proposing new laws to ensure consumers have accurate information, clear contracts, reliable speeds and greater rights to switch provider, or end a contract if they don't get the speed promised.
They found that two-thirds of people do not know what speed internet they signed up for and on average they only get 75pc of this anyway.
And four out of 10 consumers in Ireland reported difficulties accessing online content due to slow speeds or downloading capacity, while 18pc had been hit with extra charges for downloading too much data, even though most people weren't aware this could happen.
High mobile charges also put Irish people off using their phones to surf the net or even to phone people on other networks, and this reluctance is particularly marked when we're abroad, a major EU-wide survey found.
Irish people were the most reluctant in Europe to phone someone in another country, with 73pc saying they limited overseas calls from mobiles because of the cost, while 70pc restrict calls from their landline.
Over a third of us also switch off data roaming on our phones when we go abroad to avoid racking up big bills, significantly more than other nation- alities.
However, we've embraced the idea of making cheaper calls over the internet, with 46pc of us now doing so on services such as Skype.
The Eurobarometer survey showed 67pc of us have the internet at home, which is slightly above average in Europe, but 6pc of those are still relying on a dial-up connection rather than broadband.
However, some 60pc of us now have internet access via our mobile phones.
But the humble phone box has nearly disappeared from use, with just 6pc of Irish consumers reporting they used a pay phone.