Only one in five homes signs up to rural fibre broadband network.

Less than a fifth of rural customers that have been covered by Eir’s new fibre broadband network have been actually connected to the service, leading to concerns about the effectiveness of the scheme.

Eir agreed a deal in April to carve out 300,000 homes from the national broadband plan (NBP) provided it delivered fibre-power internet to those premises by the end of 2018. So far Eir has rolled out their new rural network alongside 100,000 homes in rural areas but only 16,000 customers have signed up to the service.

The €200 million network will run along 23,000 kilometers of Irish roads but homes have to be physically connected to it in order to access the service.

The Department of Communications has been criticised for not…

Catch the full article here in the Times
– Copyright The Times
taxes

Internet tax: Extra levy on Irish TV licence will be a bitter pill

Extra levy on Irish TV licence will be a bitter pill.

hould people who can’t even get broadband be expected to pay extra on their TV licence? A bitter row is brewing over the likelihood that all homeowners in Ireland will see their TV licence fee raised from €160 to €175. This is to accommodate the fact that people watch content from the internet on laptops, smartphones and other digital devices.

Ireland has been debating whether people with computers should also pay a TV licence fee for the best part of 20 years now.

The draft proposals for an upcoming Oireachtas Committee on Communications debate on the matter also include a potential “culture tax” that can be levied on internet service providers, according to a report in the Irish Independent. Proponents of the increase will argue that quality content and journalism needs to be paid for and that an increase in the TV licence to recognise the consumption of content on digital devices is needed.

Disconnected, disenfranchised and overtaxed?

But it comes at a time when connected consumers are downloading and streaming content from a myriad of sources and not only traditional outlets, such as national and local broadcasters. Some do not even have TVs any more, just broadband connections. However, is it fair to levy a broadband tax on TV owners when not every household can get quality internet access?

The public are still waiting for the National Broadband Plan to connect the approximately 550,000 homes and businesses in rural areas that require market intervention. Also, even if you can get broadband or can download content from a mobile network, it is a choice that not every homeowner will make, so why should they pay? Indeed, a senior civil servant at the Department of Communications, Mark Griffin, told a Dáil Public Accounts Committee meeting on the future of RTÉ that the “TV licence model is broken”.

Not only is it being suggested that the licence fee should increase from €160 to €175, but there is the suggestion that it should be linked with inflation in the future.

There is no doubt that public service broadcasting is a valuable service any civilised nation can provide its people. There is also no doubt that significant harm has been done to traditional media by the onset of free content and news on smartphones and the rise of pirate media via torrents. There is concern that unless media is properly funded, broadcasting in Ireland could end up going the direction of Fox News to sate commercial interests. However, applying a blanket increase on the shoulders of every homeowner, whether they use the internet or not, is not exactly clever. An alternative way should be found.

In the UK for example, a recent increase in the TV licence was made more palatable by the offer of free access to the BBC iPlayer if users submitted their TV licence number. Or perhaps a levy could be applied to existing broadband fees to support local media? However, there is no guarantee that would be any less popular than a blanket increase.

Catch the full article here in the Siliconrepublic
– Copyright Silicon Republic

Half of Irish adults would be prepared to relocate for a better broadband connection

Having a fast, strong broadband connection is so important for us that we would consider moving home for a better service.

According to the results of a recent Pure Telecom survey, half of Irish adults who experience inadequate broadband speeds would be prepared to relocate for an improved connection.

For those respondents who have broadband, three-quarters said that they are happy with their speeds, with 88pc maintaining that their home broadband speeds have remained the same or improved in the last 12 months.

Paul Connell, CEO, Pure Telecom, said that the results show that the internet plays a massive role in people’s lives.

“Many of the people affected by poor access live in rural Ireland. We need to help our rural communities thrive – not drive them into towns and cities because of internet problems,” he said.

“We hope that the National Broadband Plan will be announced and rolled out quickly so that people can access quality internet services no matter where they live.”

The survey of just over 1,000 Irish adults also revealed that the average person spends 6 hours, 20 minutes per day using their broadband connection at home – a total of 44 hours, 23 minutes per week.

“With the rise of applications like intelligent personal assistants, as well as online streaming and TV viewing, people are spending a significant amount of their time at home online – even downloading content as they sleep in some cases,” said Mr Connell.

Earlier this year, Pure Telecom signed a €35m deal with wholesale telecoms provider Open Eir, the wholesale arm of Eir.

The deal will allow Pure Telecom to offer almost two million customers high-speed broadband and phone services via Open Eir’s network.

Catch the full story here.

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