We have received a number of enquiries asking about how the entry of Sky into the broadband market in Ireland will be a “game changer” and other unrealistic expectations. For IrelandOffline the entry of Sky into the Irish market is fundamentally uninteresting as Sky will probably not add one iota of new infrastructure. They will simply be just another reseller of BT and eircom infrastructure like Vodafone and a myriad of others.
The only innovation Sky may offer is better marketing and perhaps a better bundled offer (one of interest only to those who want Pay TV*). It will not deliver any new form of broadband, what you have now with eircom or BT is exactly what you will have after Sky launch their “broadband”. If you cannot get broadband now you will still be in the same situation after Sky’s launch.
The only thing Sky may be able to add is some small amount of imaginary competition. Need we remind people that the current prices for line rental is set by Comreg (yet another abject failure by the regulator). Line rental is set at €25.74, this is the price you pay for the privilege of just having a line, services will cost extra on top of that, these service prices are set by eircom(1). As can be seen the most basic decent DSL provision costs E21.50(2)
The only concrete information available is that Sky have struck a deal with BT for use of BT’s LLU infrastructure(3). Currently LLU line rental costs E12.41 as set by the regulator.
We publish a list of LLU’d exchanges below, if you are not in one of these exchanges then absolutely nothing will change as Sky will most likely be using eircom bitstream services in the rest of the country. If you already have UPC or High performance Fixed Wireless Broadband the Sky offers will on average be much poorer performance and you are today not paying Line Rental (must be paid by Sky). If you use Mobile Internet there is also no Line Rental, though on average Sky’s service would be better performance, but that is available today, even if Sky didn’t exist.
Below is a list of current LLU exchanges where Sky can offer differentiated services:
Customs Hs Docks
* Research shows that 92% of TV watched by Irish Pay TV subscribers is actually Free To Air content. Sky’s problem is in the UPC areas where people now get Netflix even without a TV subscription.
Sky’s Broadband offering will be poor as “Catch Up TV” for majority of DSL subscribers and totally unsuitable for Netflix or VOD services of UPC quality save for maybe the 10% to 15% of Sky Broadband subscribers, and these mostly in areas that can get UPC. Sky has much higher market penetration in rural and small town Ireland where broadband quality is worst and frequently unsuitable for standard definition let alone high definition viewing.
Sky’s only real “edge” is Sky Sports, which UPC has to buy from Sky and secondly they have more channels (most of which have less than 0.1% viewing) or niche viewership, e.g. ethnic shopping channels.
Sky has considered market entry in Ireland for over 7 years, but is only executing it because they are losing customers to UPC and to Free to Air satellite services. Many Irish consumers installed Sky in order to get a decent RTE and TV3 signal. This justification may be removed with the ‘digital switchover’ In reality this move only helps Sky a little and the consumer not one bit. In UPC areas the Consumer will still get a better deal using either UPC TV + Broadband, or UPC Broadband and Free to Air TV.