Eircom, The Broadband Company not the Phone Company.

Eircom, The Broadband Company not the Phone Company.

For many years the standard excuses coming from previous incarnations of eircom about broadband were infused with a grim technophobic hilarity.eircom was not going to roll out broadband or any more broadband because there was “no demand” for it. Dialup Internet was making a lot of money for eircom in those days.

While it seems ludicrous to look back at these statements today, we know they were mainly excuses to hide the chronic lack of ongoing investment as the company was asset stripped by by various “investors”. Ironically one investor enabled quite a few exchanges for broadband until they got bored with their ‘investment’ after around 2 years.

Finally, and in no small part due to the pressure exerted by the likes of IrelandOffline, they gave in and undertook a limited roll out of broadband at exorbitant price. At that time the price was €99 per month for a paltry 1Mb.

The situation today

Now it is all change at eircom. For the first time ever, during the June-September 2010 Quarter, over HALF of ALL eircom lines now carry a Broadband ADSL Service. This is a far cry from the days of “there is no demand”. Nowadays most new eircom lines are actually installed for the primary purpose of accessing broadband rather than making telephone calls. The facility to make phone calls is no longer required by many people as they have personal mobile phones (and quite a few even have multiple phones).

The days of the landline being used for telephone calls, save to other landlines, are numbered.

Let us have a look at the statistics(1):

Total lines 1.452m ( and falling by c.20k customers a quarter nowadays)
Total DSL 697k + 38k LLU lines = 735k Broadband Lines (and still rising ) or just over half of all telephone lines in Ireland.

UPC Are also affected by this geographically limited race to provide broadband, overall UPC customers are static or falling, however broadband customers are rising. By Q2 2011 half of all UPC Cable customers will be broadband customers.

In the case of both eircom and UPC the proportion of Broadband customers as a % of all customers will continue to rise.

With this change in the usage of lines are now mostly for broadband it is time the Universal Service Obligation regime that Comreg oversees should clearly be changed on the basis of the figures above to now include broadband.

1: http://siteassets.eircom.net/assets/static/pdf/IR/ERCIF1stQuarterResultsReportto30September2010.pdf

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