Imagine sets target of 1m homes passed with wireless broadband by 2018

Imagine sets target of 1m homes passed with wireless broadband by 2018.

Irish altnet Imagine Communications, which is led by the entrepreneur Sean Bolger, has marked the settlement of its long-running EUR138 million (USD148.1 million) court case against Motorola, by announcing that – having wiped out its legacy debt – it now plans to roll out broadband services to one million Irish premises by 2018. The Irish Independent quotes Mr. Bolger as saying that the company spent about EUR20 million in 2015 and 2016 deploying its wireless LTE broadband technology service, adding that the rollout is still underway and Imagine has carried out a soft launch in areas where the network is present. According to Bolger, the company is now ramping up its sales drive and promises to deliver peak typical speeds of up to 70Mbps – suggesting peaks of up to 100Mbps – noting that it already has a footprint covering approximately 500,000 homes and businesses.

Imagine Communications, which is also backed by the likes of NTR and Kilsaran Concrete, cut its losses by more than half from EUR10.4 million to EUR4.7 million in FY2015, and also became profitable on an EBITDAbasis. Mr. Bolger confirmed that the firm’s FY2015 losses were largely due to non-cash write-downs and impairments associated with its previous WiMAX plan. Imagine sued Motorola in 2010 alleging breach of contract and negligence arising from the rollout of a WiMAX network. Motorola had countersued, denying the claims. Last month, the pair settled out of court in a confidential agreement, although it is likely Imagine received a significant sum under the arrangement.

Eir warns broadband customers of modem security breach

Eir is warning customers that its modems have been compromised in a security breach. It is understood at least 2,000 have been breached by a computer virus.

Eir is warning customers that its modems have been compromised in a security breach.

It is understood at least 2,000 have been breached by a computer virus.

Customers are being advised to reset their devices after a security vulnerability identified on a “limited number” of Zyxel D100 and Zyxel P-660HN-T1A broadband modems.

“We strongly recommend that customers with these modems change both their modem administration password as well as their WiFi password as soon as possible,” the company stated.

The company is contacting those affected by letter and email to inform them of the situation.

Full details of eir’s advice to its customers can be found here.

Catch the full article here on Breaking News

Ireland falls behind in cybersecurity war

The government agency tasked with safeguarding the state and critical national infrastructure from cyberattacks is significantly under-resourced and has limited capacity to respond to such events, The Times can reveal.

Internal documents show that the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) needs a significant increase in investment to adopt EU security requirements and thwart attacks on government infrastructure and multinational technology companies.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has repeatedly expressed concern over the task facing the centre and its ability to meet EU standards. The NCSC was set up this year but has yet to be put on a statutory basis.

Catch the full article here in the The Times
– Copyright Peter O’Dwyer

Broadband speed in slow lane

New data demonstrates parts of the country experience broadband speeds up to 36 times slower than others and reveals the country’s broadband hot and not spots.

The data suggests that as few as a quarter of households could be receiving speeds of 30Mbps or more, the minimum target set out in the National Broadband Plan:

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While there are some exceptions with much higher speeds, in County Wexford, we receive an average 14.20Mbps, less than half the minimum target, but compared to somewhere like Legan in Longford, with an average download speed of 1.98Mbps, we’re flying it, with Wexford town achieving 16.2Mbps. By comparison with its country cousins, the fastest area is Drimnagh in Dublin, with an average of 72.15Mbps.

The hot spot: county-by-county data shows Dublin is the county with the fastest average broadband speed, at 44.85Mbps.

Longford is the slowest county, with an average broadband speed of 7.25Mbps, while of the 20 slowest areas, of which Wexford is one, four are in Cork, three are in Cavan, and there are two in Galway; 37 per cent of the total tests collected showed download speeds of less than 5Mbps, and the average speed across all speed tests taken in the period was 23.75Mbps. The speed test data collected by Switcher.ie, the independent price comparison website and switching service, is based on almost 27,000 consumer speed tests run by broadband users between 1 August 2015 and 31 July 2016.

In terms of county-by-county results, unsurprisingly Dublin has the highest average speed, followed by Waterford, Kildare, Meath and Westmeath. The National Broadband Plan sets out that, at a minimum, broadband with speeds of 30Mbps should be available to all.

Catch the full article here in the Wexford People
– Copyright David Tucker

Virgin Media records full-year loss as revenues dip

Subscriber numbers slip for the group, which reported €3.87m pre-tax loss last year.

Virgin Media Ireland fell into the red in 2015, recording a €3.87 million pre-tax loss as against a €26 million profit a year earlier as customer numbers fell..

The company, which has invested heavily in its network in recent years, reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) fell 22 per cent to €122 million, compared to €153 million in 2014.

Revenues totalled €350 million versus €351 million in the previous year.

A breakdown of turnover shows the company recorded €284 million in sales from analogue, digital television and broadband services with a further €65.8 million coming from telephony services.

Operating profit dropped to €58.6 million from €91million as operating expenses climbed to €216 million from €188 million.

The accounts show customer numbers fell to 490,310 versus 512,952 in 2014 .

Rural areas

Virgin attributed the drop in subscribers to the phasing out of its MMDS (Multichannel Multipoint Distribution System)platform, which was used by customers in rural areas who could not access the company’s cable network.

Recent figures from the company show the number of customers has declined further this year however, falling to 457,700 in the third quarter. These include 363,800 broadband subscribers, 312,200 television subscribers and 352,200 home phone customers.

Owned by Liberty Global, the group claims to have invested over €1 billion in Ireland over the past decade.

The group employed 734 people last year, down from 806 a year earlier. Staff-related costs, including wages and salaries, totalled €63.7 million, versus €52.3 million in 2014.

Virgin, which rebranded from UPC Ireland last October, recently announced it is putting its prices up in January for the second time in less than a year for many of its subscribers.

Catch the full article here in the Irish Times
– Copyright Charlie Taylor

Virgin Media customers told their bills will increase from January

Customers of Virgin Media have been told that their bills will increase from January.

The new changes will see the average customer paying an extra €1.50 per month, the company claims. But one irate customer told Independent.ie that his bill will increase by €4 – an extra €48 per year. Customers were informed of the changes via email in the last two weeks.

In the correspondence top one customer, seen by Independent.ie, the broadband and TV company wrote: “We’re making some changes in January and we wanted to let you know that the amount you pay for your Virgin Media package will go up.

“This change will take effect from your first bill after January 1st 2017. Nobody likes a price rise, and we understand this. We’re always looking at how we can bring you an even better TV package and add value to your Virgin Media experience wherever possible.”

A spokesperson for the company said the price changes vary depending on the services that customers use, and they average 3.35% across the customer base.

The company told customers that they have until December 23 to cancel their package and can do so by calling 1908 and selecting option 1.

On customer said: “This is outrageous. I have lost count of the number of price increases we have experienced in the last number of years.”

In a statement to Independent.ie, a spokesperson for Virgin Media said: “Nobody likes price changes and we only ever increase prices when we need to. We do everything we can to keep prices competitive while also continuing to make necessary investments in the services that our customers want.

“The price change is necessary due to increased operating costs and, most notably, a near trebling of rates payable across our network.

Catch the full article here in the Irish Independent
– Copyright Online Editors | Newsdesk

National broadband plan will fail those in our country areas

High-speed internet access is more important than ever but getting fibre to all homes is not the way forward in rural Ireland.

The National Broadband Plan, the Government’s initiative to provide high-speed fibre internet connections to every home in the country, has been hit with setbacks, budget cuts and delays almost since its inception.

The latest Switcher.ie survey brought in to focus the huge variance of broadband speeds across Ireland and the real problems facing rural businesses and communities without high-speed internet access.

The National Broadband Plan, the Government’s initiative to provide high-speed fibre internet connections to every home in the country, has been hit with setbacks, budget cuts and delays almost since its inception. This problem seems destined to continue with no end in sight. What was supposed to be delivered in 2015 is now not even planned to start until mid-2018 and is unlikely to fully materialise until 2023 at the earliest. This will leave thousands of rural households and businesses with a prohibitively slow internet connection.

While it’s a difficult question to confront, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask it: is the National Broadband Plan in its present form actually feasible? Considering our geography and existing infrastructure, is it financially and logistically possible to deliver high-speed fibre-optic internet to every home in Ireland?

While more and more of us are gravitating towards major towns and cities, Ireland is still mostly rural. Laying fibre-optic cable isn’t easy, or cheap. Roads must be closed and footpaths dug up. These difficulties are multiplied significantly in the country, where kilometres of hi-tech cable need to be passed through private farmland, secondary roads and down boreens to reach solitary houses and isolated townlands.

There are still too many unanswered questions. If the Government puts down fibre- optic cable along a main road, will it be up to the household or the business to pay to have it connected the extra distance to their front door? This would cost thousands. Will this cost be subsidised or will the consumer have to pony up the money upfront? And how much of a monthly charge consumers will have to pay? We simply do not know.

What we do know is that similar commercial and government initiatives to get fibre to the home in other countries have proved too costly and expensive and are being replaced with more advanced, future-proofed wireless technologies.

The Australian government launched its own broadband initiative a number of years ago, and these very problems were encountered; it was not cost-effective or practical to deliver fibre-optic cable to remote areas. They turned to fixed wireless as a solution.

And it’s not only cost-conscious governments reassessing their plans: Google, arguably the world’s foremost tech company, with virtually unlimited funds, has made drastic revisions to its own broadband project in the United States, which was initially focused on delivering ultra-high-speed fibre-optic connections.

When consumers proved unwilling to pay the price of connecting their homes to a fibre-optic network and paying for a service they didn’t need, Google realised the impracticality and commercial reality and announced that a switch from fibre-to-the-home to fixed wireless.

Fixed wireless bypasses the difficulties of laying down kilometres of cable by transmitting a signal through the air which is then picked up by a receiver.

The National Broadband Plan is promising internet speeds of up to one gigabit per second (or a thousand megabits). Does the average household need that kind of speed? As the Switcher.ie survey shows, the average and perfectly sufficient broadband speed in Dublin is 45 megabits. Today, advanced fixed wireless can provide a connection speed of up to 200 megabits and is more than capable of servicing the average household and business. Indeed, this is way beyond what the average household uses, and even as internet consumption increases in the years ahead (and wireless speeds along with it), we’re still a very long way from requiring a full gigabit.

But even fixed wireless internet is under threat. An upcoming auction of the wireless “spectrum” – the available bandwidth that internet companies can use to provide advanced wireless services – could see mobile operators and larger telecoms companies with a vested interest in being subsidised to rollout fibre, snap up large sections of it, squeezing out wireless suppliers essential to the provision of rural broadband.

If this happens, compounded by further delays to the National Broadband Plan, accessing high-speed internet could become even more difficult for thousands of homes and businesses, and those who rely on fixed wireless internet already may actually lose their existing connections. As we stand, thousands of homes and businesses dependent on existing fixed wireless connections are about to be put into limbo by the communications minister.

Over the past two years, we have advised the Government, the Communications Regulator and Minister for Communications Denis Naughten of the global shift to fixed wireless as a solution to deliver high-speed broadband to rural areas urging them, in the national interest, to safeguard part of the spectrum for fixed wireless, thereby assuring internet access for thousands of people into the future. To date, this has been ignored.

There are undeniable problems with Ireland’s internet infrastructure and these need to be addressed as a matter of urgency; but that doesn’t mean that the National Broadband Plan is the all-curing panacea. Indeed, assuming the most optimistic rollout of fibre, our own estimates suggest that there will still be roughly 200,000 homes and businesses that will need a fixed-wireless solution. If the spectrum for fixed wireless is no longer available, in addition to hindering the provision of real, workable solutions in a much shorter time frame, these homes and businesses could be the collateral damage of the Government’s blinkered view of broadband provision.

Tech multinationals and other national governments are reconsidering fibre fundamentalism, and we should be doing the same. A refusal to rationally examine the National Broadband Plan and explore more economic alternatives will see us locked into a costly project for decades to come, especially if wireless providers are forced out of the market. Creating a new financial black hole, like Irish Water, is not desirable for either the public or the Government. By 2023, it’ll be too late to say we got it wrong.

Catch the full article here in the Irish Independent
– Copyright Brian O’Donohoe

Areas of Cork among slowest for broadband

New data this week revealed the Cork has some of the worst areas in the country for broadband speeds.

Of the20 slowest areas in the country, four are in Cork, with Dromahane is county Cork among the five worst in the country.

The speed test data collected by Switcher.ie, the independent price comparison website and switching service, found that parts of the country experience broadband speeds up to 36 times slower than others.

The data also suggests that as few as a quarter of households could be receiving speeds of 30Mbps or more, the minimum target set out in the National Broadband Plan.

The data, based on almost 27,000 consumer speed tests run by broadband users between 1 August 2015 and 31 July 2016, shows that Legan in Longford is officials the slowest area, with average speeds that are 36 times slower than Drimnagh in Dublin 12 – the fastest area- and almost 12 times slower than the national average.

In terms of county-by-county results, Dublin has the highest average speed, followed by Waterford, Kildare, Meath and Westmeath. The county with the slowest average speed is Longford, with Leitrim, Roscommon, Monaghan and Mayo making up the bottom five.

The National Broadband Plan sets out that, at a minimum, broadband with speeds of up to 30Mbps should be available to all. The data shows that, of all tests collected throughout the period, only 25 per cent of tests had speeds of 30Mbps or more.

Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of Switcher.ie, said: “The results from the speed test data highlight the digital divide in Ireland. We’re seeing lightning speeds in certain areas, largely where there has already been investment made in fibre to the home networks. However, in many areas we are still a long way off these kinds of speeds.

“In practical terms, it would have taken someone living in Legan in Longford over three and-a-half hours to download a two hour HD movie, while people in Drimnagh in Dublin 12 can do this in just under six minutes.

“This is a stark difference that could have a real impact on quality of life for people in areas with sluggish speeds. And it can have an impact on house prices, education and local businesses, too.

“Obviously, investment from commercial providers and rollout of the National Broadband Plan is needed in order to bring every premises onto a level playing field.”

The highest speed out of all the tests was 989.15Mbps, which was recorded in Ballon in Carlow.

Aside from the type of connection you have and where you live, there are a number of other factors that can affect the speeds you can achieve. For example, distance from the exchange, where the router is placed within your home and even the time of day you use the internet. Whether or not you’re connected directly to the router or using WiFi will also have an impact, as will the device you’re using.

Catch the full article in the Cork Independant

Article by Brian Hayes Curtin

Rural Clare’s future jeopardised by ‘dire broadband’

HUGE tracts of Clare are on the wrong side of the so-called ‘digital divide’ according to local politicians and business people, with concerns this is hampering economic development and will continue to do so for years to come.

Research published this week by switcher.ie shows that there is an average download speed in Clare of 17.4 Megabits per second (Mbps). This is the 12th quickest of the 26 counties and while this is dramatically quicker than last-placed Longford (just 7.25Mbps), it is also way behind first-placed Dublin (44.85Mbps) and also some distance behind Waterford (27.9Mbps) and Kildare (27.36Mbps).

The research also shows that Shannon, home to companies such as IT giant Intel, has an average download speed of 51.64 Mbps, the eighth quickest city or town in Ireland.

While the figure in Shannon is almost three times quicker than the average for the county, there is no doubt that many rural areas are experiencing much slower speeds.

Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley said the relatively healthy average figure for Clare masks a lot of problems.

“We have good broadband in parts of Ennis and other urban areas. That’s fine and it meets the business needs there. But averages hide the true facts. There are small businesses all over Clare, whether they be shops or pubs or farms, that need access to the internet. There are many families whose children need access to the internet for projects for school, for college work and they find it impossible to get adequate download speeds.”

It seems like broadband has been an issue for rural Ireland for an eternity, but Deputy Dooley warned that things are still moving too slowly.

“The sad thing about it is there is no end in sight. Notwithstanding that the Government have had a national broadband strategy/plan underway since 2012, we still don’t have a tender document circulated to appoint a company or group of companies to deliver it. There is going to be a lead-in time to roll this broadband out and there is now talk that it could take four to five years. All the while, technology is changing and content requires faster download speeds. We are way behind the European index on this.”

He contrasted the roll-out of broadband with the rural electrification scheme in the 20th Century. “When you look at the electrification of Ireland, nobody said that if you lived out on the top of a hill in Inagh or in Ogonnelloe or Broadford or Cooraclare, you should get a lesser voltage than people in places like Ennis or Kilrush or Shannon. What we’re saying at the moment is that it is ok for Ennis to have 220 volts in electrical terms and it is ok for people in rural areas to have 10 volts.”

Read the full story here : http://bit.ly/2fbAS8o

By Owen Ryan

Kerry Slowest in Munster for Average Broadband Speed

Economic development in rural Kerry remains hobbled by shockingly poor broadband speeds which are the slowest in the entire province, a new survey of average internet connection speeds in Ireland has shown.

The survey conducted among 27,000 internet users nationally by website Switcher.ie shows that people living on rural Kerry are forced to contend with some of the slowest broadband download speeds in the entire country when trying to conduct business or use the internet for leisure.

Kerry is ranked the tenth slowest county in the Republic. The findings of the survey echo a study conducted by The Kerryman in June which found that most of the townlands in Kerry – outside of the main urban centres of Tralee, Killarney, Listowel and Dingle – are struggling on broadband that is far slower than the minimum target speed per household under the Government’s National Broadband Plan; the realisation of which has now been delayed until 2022 at the earliest, following an initial deadline of 2020.

Only Monaghan and Wexford were faring worse than Kerry in our July survey of internet speed, which found an average download speed of 8.6 megabits per second (Mbs) across the county.

Switcher.ie’s survey published this week found Kerry’s average broadband speed, taking the large urban centres into consideration, is at 14.02Mbs.

One politician here blasted the provision:

“It’s simply not acceptable that homeowners and business owners in Kerry are being forced to work with speeds averaging 14Mbps,” Fianna Fáil Kerry Deputy John Brassil told the Kerryman on Tuesday.

“Let’s be quite clear – businesses in Kerry are competing, not only with their neighbours in Limerick, but with companies in Dublin, where the average speed was recorded at 45mbps.”

“The speeds being made available to communities in Kerry are 53% less than the commitments made by the current Government that everywhere in the country will be able to access broadband at 30mbps at a minimum,” Deputy Brassil added.