Comreg – the consumer champion

We here at IrelandOffline note once again that Comreg is announcing that they intend to measure the performance of broadband providers here in Ireland.

Speaking at the Broadband Forum 2014 in Dublin, Kevin O’Brien said ComReg would be seeking to establish a panel to conduct speed measurement trials.

“An ongoing bugbear of consumers is that actual broadband speed is often not as fast as what is advertised by their internet service provider. However, Mr O’Brien said the planned project would bring greater transparency to the Irish marketplace when it comes to speed.”

Thanks for the update Kevin. We pointed this out years ago.

Profit Opportunism

Mobile telcos being the worst offenders of all for opportunistic overcharging at the expense of the hard pressed consumers of Ireland, as was outlined in a recent “Consumer Show” and Comreg do absolutely nothing. This is a real live consumer issue. Bill shock for inexplicable unknown reasons must end. This would be a real opportunity for Comreg to show they actually care and for them to demand explanations.

Sounds familiar

We believe that the announcement from Comreg is deliberately designed to mislead the public (and the media), a conscious subterfuge to make it seems like they are “doing something” about the misinformation about broadband speeds from telecommunications companies.

 

And haven’t we heard about this initiative before?  Well actually yes, frequently.

This same speedtest initiative was mooted publicly in October 2010(1)and again in November 2011(2), by which time ComReg were telling their Consumer Panel that the initiative was underway. Eighteen months later it was still a work in progress, but was being described with enthusiasm to the Daíl Communications Committee by the then Chairman of ComReg, the very same Kevin O’Brien,  in March 2013(3)

In answer to an FOI request, in June 2013, ComReg wrote “ComReg is still in the process of product testing and refining the broadband speeds measurement tool. The methodology of the tool has not yet been finalized and neither the workplan nor the tool has been released to the telecommunications service providers whose services the tool will be testing.”

It was noted as due in Q2 of this year by the Minister to a Daíl Committee in February of this year(4), and a few days later in answer to an oral question.(5)

In all this time, now four years, ComReg have continued to quote ‘contracted’ broadband speeds in all quarterly bulletins, as has the Department. As users will know, ‘contracted speeds’ owe more to advertising fantasies than any reasonable expectation. It is not surprising then that ComReg are in no hurry to get this project underway, still less report the results. Mr O’Brien need only look at Ireland’s ranking in NetIndex’s ‘promise vs delivery’ statistics (6) to know that actual speeds cannot possibly match up with his beloved ‘contracted speeds’.

And speaking of advertising, ComReg acknowledge that they were instrumental in formulating the ASAI code on the advertising of broadband speeds(7) in which ‘busy hour speeds’ must be quoted in the body copy of advertisements. Has the code been adopted? As they might say in the civil service, the code has not commanded widespread acceptance in the industry.
Finally

Frankly the whole re-announcement of a re-announcement of a re-announcement of an announcement shows the real underlying contempt that is at the heart of Comreg’s feigned concern for Irish consumers. Consumers are treated as mere profit centres and basically have very few rights when in the Comreg pseudo-universe.

Mr O’Brien, if you really do want to measure real broadband speeds or help consumers, just do it.

 

1 http://www.comreg.ie/_fileupload/File/Minutes%20of%2014th%20Consumer%20Advisory%20Panel.pdf
2 http://www.comreg.ie/_fileupload/File/Minutes%20of%2017th%20Consumer%20Advisory%20Panel.pdf

3 http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/Debates%20Authoring/DebatesWebPack.nsf/committeetakes/TRJ2013031400007?opendocument
4 http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/Debates%20Authoring/DebatesWebPack.nsf/committeetakes/TR62014020600006?opendocument

http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/debateswebpack.nsf/takes/dail2014021300017?opendocument

http://www.netindex.com/promise/2,49/Ireland/

http://www.asai.ie/documents/ASAI%20ADVICE%20NOTE%20ON%20BROADBAND.pdf

 

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