Enforced digital detox turns rural dream into nightmare

Lack of landline or internet connections and ‘apathetic’ Eir ruin move to new Offaly home

After years of renting, saving and dreaming, my partner and I finally moved into our dream home with our two children on St Patrick’s Day.

We were finally free of the rental trap, our kids could play out in the garden without fear of passing cars and there would be space to grow vegetables and tend to a garden.

The house is a one-off new build. It is located around six kilometres from the centre of Tullamore and about 3km from the house we previously rented on the outskirts of the Co Offaly town. Although close to the town, it is located down a boreen off the main road and is free from both light and noise pollution.

All of this seemed idyllic to me and in my naivety I did not anticipate any major difficulties. This was before I had the misfortune of dealing with Eir. They were contacted prior to the move for a landline and internet connection but on inspection their engineer said a pole was needed so we cancelled the order and made a fresh request. Eir had supplied eFibre to the old house and credit where credit is due, the service was perfect, too good perhaps.

Even though the new house is near our old address we may as well be in a different galaxy. On two occasions Eir couldn’t find the house and they even cited data protection as the reason they couldn’t ask locally for directions (so much for your Eircode Alex White), presumably because God forbid someone might discover we wanted a phoneline.

When their engineer eventually arrived, it was the same man from before with the same message – we need a pole and there must be a pole request. This was infuriating as we had informed Eir of this on countless occasions. When informed that my livelihood was on the line, the engineer was sympathetic and said he would contact his manager, outline the urgency of the case and put in a pole request. Eir say we might now have a line at the end of April.

Modern-day retreat

Eir cannot be held responsible for the location’s mobile phone signal. It is almost non-existent on both major networks. I imagine years from now there will be people seeking out the exact conditions that prevail at my new home. It is a digital-free oasis impervious it would appear, even to radio waves. The enforced digital detox might actually one day become a viable business model, a modern-day retreat, impenetrable to potentially harmful radiation from the modern world outside – if only there was a way of letting people know about it.

After the move the full implications of digital-free living became all too apparent as my income dried up. Even my radio conspired against me in a fiendish way. It permits radio stations to be tuned in but the moment you walk away from the device the signal dies.

As a freelance reporter it is difficult to think of a more challenging environment to operate from. In the past I have had days of frantically driving up and down country roads in search of a mobile signal all the while knowing that there was an irate editor waiting impatiently in some far away newsroom. That is challenging but at least mobility offered the prospect of a solution.

The sheer frustration of dealing with Eir is something entirely different. The irony of trying to force customers to communicate through online chats appears lost on the company. The apathetic call-takers on Eir’s community forum seem incapable of grasping the reality of someone having no mobile phone coverage.

Recently I acquired an internet dongle from Vodafone. The service works intermittently. I am informed that should I get landline broadband I could get a device that would boost the mobile phone signal in the house. At the moment one windowsill offers two bars of 3G phone reception. My phone is in constant need of charging as it is exhausting itself trying to find a signal. It has also developed a worrying habit of falling from the windowsill when the odd call does come through.

I am acutely aware that my problems fall squarely into the first-world category. I know citizens are being massacred in Syria, children are dying of starvation in Yemen and there is a very real homelessness crisis here in Ireland. I know too that many people feel that if you choose to live in the countryside then you should accept the consequences.

Incapable

While I take this on board, I wonder what hope have the people of rural Ireland in starting up any business in this digital age. As for Eir acquiring 300,000 new rural broadband contracts at the behest of the Minister for Communications, frankly I despair. They seem incapable of dealing with the customers they have.

Having been told by Eir that I could now expect to wait a further three weeks for a landline or internet connection, I drove to my old address and in a state of complete exasperation and frustration emailed both the Denis Naughten and the chief executive of Eir. A lot of what I said is outlined above, but there was one more point that I believe is probably most relevant. What will I do if my partner or either of my young children require an ambulance or urgent medical attention? As expected neither the Minister nor the chief executive responded.

In jest, I informed the news editor that he could expect this piece in the post. It was only after the phone call ended I remembered what is happening to our rural post office network.

 Catch the full article here on the Irish Times

Seven things we learned at Mobile World Congress 2017

Barcelona hosted the biggest mobile tech show on the planet this week.

Tech editor Adrian Weckler has been immersed in the sector’s latest phones, mobile gadgets and new technology. Here he reveals why 5G really will be the next big thing (as Samsung and VR struggle); why, as phone cameras take giant leaps, Nokia’s classic €50 phone was a surprise hit; and while Irish delegates are up, the number of women most definitely isn’t

1. A lot more is going to depend on 5G than we think.

One of the big themes at Mobile World Congress was 5G. But unlike 3G or 4G, 5G is about way more than mobile phone speeds or internet access from handsets.

It’s starting to become clear that almost everything we do in a few years may depend on solid, unbroken access to a mobile network.

Self-driving cars, for instance, will probably only work if they have guaranteed, unfettered connections to a wider network – and 4G doesn’t cut it.

Right now, you can watch a video in your car or get sat nav access.

But for precision timing, the latency has to be down to a few milliseconds, something that isn’t possible over current networks. At Mobile World Congress, several of the car companies were there, making this point, with the two biggest display areas in the whole event taken up by Ericsson and Huawei, which are vying to be the main 5G network providers around the world.

2. The hype around virtual reality has abated.

The last two years were dominated by the promise of a new era in virtual reality. But in 2017, there is a lot less being said about it at the main tech shows.

“There just aren’t that many people buying them,” one senior Google executive told me at Mobile World Conference.

As a result, generic mobile and tech companies aren’t showcasing virtual reality modules as future add-ons to whatever service they sell in the same way they might have last year.

There is still massive investment going into the genre, mainly because of bets placed by Facebook (which owns Oculus), Sony, HTC and – to a lesser extent – Google. But virtual reality is starting to be talked about more in niche terms than ubiquitous, mass-market parlance.

3. Phone cameras are taking the next step up.

Given the laws of physics, can cameras in phones get any better? Actually, yes. We saw some significant upgrades at Mobile World Congress to the lenses sitting in your pocket. Sony and Huawei, in particular, showcased beefed-up cameraphone tech that will result in significantly better photos and videos turning up on our Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat feeds.

Sony’s new Xperia XZ Premium, for example, has an unprecedented ability to shoot very slow motion video in high definition.

Huawei, meanwhile, has upped its Leica lenses to give pretty jaw-dropping portrait photo ability.

They weren’t the only phone companies improving on their camera tech. Oppo may not be a widely known phone outfit in Ireland, but it’s now one of the biggest handset brands in China.

It also debuted a dual-lens cameraphone at Mobile World Congress.

Undoubtedly, Apple and Samsung will respond with the S8, due out shortly, and the iPhone 8, expected in September.

But the bottom line is that the gap between cameraphones and €1,000-plus standalone cameras will continue to narrow this year.

To be clear, the two will never be equal: camera sensors and standalone lenses will always have a significant edge over necessarily small phone sensors and flat micro-lenses. But the scale of the superiority that once existed continues to decline.

4. People are still looking for quirky things.

The hit of Mobile World Congress came from an unlikely source: Nokia. Its revived  classic 3310 model caught the imagination of the public, taking experts and analysts by surprise.

For €50, the dinky little phone comes with a two-inch colour screen, basic camera and an even more basic web browser. Its battery will last a month on standby and it has a new version of ‘Snake’, said to be the most-played video game of all time.

But is it a gimmick or a product with real legs? Are people really about to give up their powerful smartphones for a gadget that would have been fairly basic even ten years ago?

Analysts say that it will appeal to a mixture of older people, festival-goers, travellers and those who want to reduce their addiction to social media all throughout the day.

There are even suggestions that people sensitive to their data privacy might use the pared-down phone when entering the US, to limit border guards’ exploration of their social information when asked for such data at customs.

5. Samsung continues to have a terrible time of it.

Can things get much worse for Samsung? In the middle of Mobile World Congress, news came through that its chief executive is to be investigated for corruption.

Not that things were going well for the company at the event before that bombshell dropped. Its keynote presentation, which is usually an anchor event at Mobile World Congress, was a decidedly awkward affair with more hand-wringing from the stage over its Note 7 overheating phone fiasco. It didn’t even have any significant product to launch, with no Galaxy S8 model ready yet.

That left it with nothing more than an Android tablet and two touchscreen Windows laptops as its main pitch to the thousands gathered and watching. In previous years, Samsung has utterly dominated Mobile World Congress, just as it has dominated the mobile industry. So far, 2017 is proving to be as challenging as the end of 2016.

6. The Irish presence is getting bigger and bigger.

A couple of years ago, Irish influence at Mobile World Congress was largely restricted to a state-subsidised stand with 14 plucky little companies selected to present on the big stage. Now, some Irish companies are starting to come into their own as legitimate, large-scale competition to big international players. Dublin-based telecoms software firm Openet had arguably the biggest stand of any of the Irish firms on hand, a very large corner edifice with public and private spaces within. Asavie, a Dublin-based ‘internet of things’ firm, also has a sizeable stand at the event and announced a pretty significant deal.

In all, there were well over 30 Irish companies officially on display, with dozens (perhaps hundreds) more on location for business meetings and pitches.

7. The telecoms industry is still run by middle-aged men in suits.

Think web-tech companies have a gender balance problem? A walk around Mobile World Congress shows you an industry that makes the digital tech business look like a model of progressive gender-balance.

Hardly any keynote speeches were by women and, from what I saw walking around the place for two days, very few of the senior executives on the floor were women.

In relative terms, Ireland actually does reasonably well on this score. Ericsson’s most senior Irish executive at the event was Zelia Madigan, country manager for the company which has over 1,000 people working between Athlone and Dublin. At home, Irish telcos have pretty visible female senior executives too, including Vodafone’s Irish boss Anne O’Leary and Eir’s head of networks, Carolann Lennon.

However, not a single one of the 14 up-and-coming companies showcased at by Enterprise Ireland on the state agency’s subsidised stand at Mobile World Congress was led by a woman.

This probably wasn’t for want of looking on EI’s part. But telecoms still appears to be a very, very male-dominated business.

 Catch the full article here on the Irish Independent

Wireless pioneer battling the State on national broadband plan

interview: Seán Bolger of Imagine claims the route to rural connectivity is wireless

Remember when telecommunications was just Telecom Éireann: a single entity, running a single infrastructure? Sure, it was bloated and uncompetitive, and yes, the market couldn’t have remained as it was with the advent of mobile and the internet, but are we really better served by the tangled mess of technologies and overlapping infrastructures that now prevail?

Today, the number of firms offering phone and broadband bundles across fixed-line, fixed-wireless and mobile platforms is heading towards 70, and we’re about to introduce another weave to the tapestry in the form of the National Broadband Plan.

In theory, Imagine boss Seán Bolger should view this as an existential threat. His company supplies fixed-wireless broadband to rural Ireland, a technology and customer base that’s likely to be cannibalised by the Government’s scheme.

But Bolger, who has made a career out of fighting monopolies, is unperturbed.

“The reality is, it’s completely impracticable . . . it won’t happen,” he says.

It’s a bold claim given the political clout behind the plan. There are now two Government departments and a task force in charge of overseeing its implementation.

Imagine’s Dublin headquarters, a rather nondescript office space located in a corner of Sandyford Business Centre, doesn’t feel like the staging post for a mass assault on Ireland’s telecommunications market, but the company has a reputation for being understated, despite its outspoken boss.

The bulk of our conversation is taken up with the National Broadband Plan and, as Bolger sees it, the Government’s misguided insistence on a fibre solution.

He says the cost of linking 937,000 homes – the proposed intervention area – to a high-speed, fibre-to-the-home network is prohibitive, and likely to cost way more than the €1 billion estimate currently pencilled in.

The Department of Communications has never specified the technology to be deployed, but Bolger claims it’s implicit. “Politicians have basically told everyone it’s going to be fibre to the home,” he says. Either way, the three shortlisted bidders – Eir, Siro and Enet – are basing their bids around a fibre solution.

With the potential to deliver download speeds of up to one gigabit – 1,000 megabits – per second (Mbps), proponents say fibre will guard against early obsolescence, a feature of former Irish broadband initiatives.

Logistical challenges

However, Bolger insists it will be too difficult to run fibre to households in remote areas without using wireless, principally because of the prevalence of one-off housing units and poor planning. Similar plans have been abandoned in the United States, Australia and Britain for the same logistical reasons.

“The problem with fibre is that it’s extremely expensive and not really viable on a commercial basis outside of densely populated areas,” he says.

But isn’t this just sour grapes? After all, Imagine was one of the two consortiums to be ejected from the process last year. “Our bid did not fail. We were excluded on a technicality,” he says.

The technicality, he claims, relates to its backer, Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, and the fact that the latter’s holding company wasn’t included as a member of the Imagine bid, which also included Australia’s MacQuarie Capital and infrastructural group Black & Veatch.

Bolger won’t elaborate on what he thinks went on behind the scenes, but it’s clear he believes the process was hung up on delivering a fibre solution to the exclusion of all others, including Imagine’s 4G wireless technology, which delivers high-speed internet access via radio signals rather than cables.

A recent survey of Irish broadband speeds by technology monitoring group Ookla, ranked Imagine second ahead of fibre rivals Eir, Vodafone and Sky, with an average speed of 77Mbps, and significantly ahead of the 30Mbps threshold specified in the NBP tender.

“Why we were excluded on a technicality is a matter for the national broadband team, but the result was that two effective competitors with major multinational backer funding were excluded from the process.”

This outcome favours market incumbent Eir, he claims, suggesting the former semi-State has pushed the department towards the most expensive technology option in order to delay the project and/or limit competition.

Eir has been accused of trying to disrupt the Government’s tender by several rivals, an accusation it denies.

“I’m not saying the process stinks. I’m saying we were excluded on a technicality. Do I think that was the right thing to do? No, I don’t. Do I think that’s in the best interest of the country in terms of competition? No, I don’t.”

“What started out as an extremely good plan has effectively been curtailed into a risky plan by the process.”

“The whole idea of the plan is to build a wholesale network, but if the wholesale cost of that network is so high so that it’s prohibitive, you’ll have very little competition, and who will pay for that? The consumer.”

Commercial operators

Either way, Bolger’s believes the plan in its current guise won’t deliver. That’s not to say rural Ireland won’t get high-speed broadband, only that it will be delivered through a combination of fibre to the regions – and, where it is viable, to the home – in combination with wireless technologies from private operators in more remote areas.

To be fair to Bolger, he’s putting his money where his mouth is. The company is spending more than €1 million a month on the national rollout of its 4G long-term evolution (LTE) network.

Currently it has 50 live sites across the State and about 11,500 customers, with approximately 2,500 joining each month. It plans to grow this to 400 sites and 160,000 customers within three years, courtesy of a €300 million war chest stumped up by existing shareholders and new investors, plus cashflow from the business.

The sale of its retail business division, comprising up to 5,500 customers, to rival telco Magnet last year was part of this strategic shift in focus.

“We’re fed up talking about this and people not understanding it, so we decided to just go out and do it.

“In less than five months, we’ve rolled out our technology to nearly 500,000 homes,” Bolger says, noting it has had an additional 87,000 requests from prospective customers registering on the site or via social media.

To accommodate this expansion, the company has hired an additional 100 staff in the past year, bringing its total workforce to 275. It expects staff numbers at its three offices, two in Dublin and one in Cork, to grow to 350 within the next 12 months.

“We’re the first company that has quit the bulls**t, and gone into rural Ireland and delivered,” Bolger says, highlighting the rollout is being done on purely commercial basis.

“We could have reduced the amount of State subsidy required to deliver high-speed broadband in Ireland if the Government had kept us in the NBP process,” he claims. “What we’ve proven is that there’s a global, industry-backed technology that can be used today in Ireland to deliver high-speed broadband on a commercial basis.”

Tenacious

Bolger is nothing if not tenacious, and his sense of injustice over the NBP bidding process seems to have strengthened his resolve to prove the company has a winning formula for the provision of broadband.

The Rathfarnham-born entrepreneur has spent much of his telecoms career in arm wrestles with monopolies and big multinationals. His first serious foray into telecoms arena came in 1993, when he founded ITL, an international calls firm – at the time Telecom Éireann’s first and only competitor.

After merging the business with Norway’s Netsource in 1997, and buying up 15 other firms across Europe, he went on to sell it for $300 million. He bought back the company’s Irish business in 2003, merging it with Imagine, which had been established in 1998.

Bolger fought a legal battle with Eircom’s then mobile arm Eircell over its right to provide competitive mobile services. The High Court found for Imagine on a number of contractual issues, but rejected its contention that there had been a breach of competition law by Eircell.

At the time, Imagine had around 20,000 subscribers: Bolger estimates that Eircell’s actions cost him 80,000 new customers.

Around 2008, seeing the growth in demand for broadband, the company reinvented itself as a fixed-wireless provider, subsequently buying Irish Broadband and Clearwire to boost its infrastructural platform.

However, the company’s new iteration nearly foundered after it fell out with US telecoms giant Motorola, the supplier of its Wimax product.

A six-year legal battle – a record for the Commercial Court – ensued. The Irish company claimed in 2011 in the High Court that Motorola was supposed to have provided 234 base stations for its wireless network by the end of the previous year, but had only installed 125. Imagine said the delay had significantly depleted its capital and forced it to restructure debt.

Bolger says the company went to hell and back in its battle with Motorola, at one stage having to downsize the workforce by 50 per cent.

“What kept us going was a fundamental belief in what’s right and what’s wrong, and we don’t like being bullied.” He also points to the backing of shareholders.

Under wraps

The €134 million lawsuit was only settled last year. Details of the settlement were kept under wraps, but Bolger says the company’s position was vindicated.

“We take on very big projects and by doing that we tend to take on vested interests,” he says.

These days Imagine is 54 per cent owned by Bolger, commercial director Brian O’Donohoe, and the company’s management and staff. Another 30 per cent is held the Balthus consortium of investors and 16 per cent by listed venture capital group DFJ Esprit.

“Everything we do is down to a team of people. Whatever that concept, idea, we look at; it comes down to opportunity, strategy, team and money.”

He says the biggest challenge for Irish entrepreneurs is finance, highlighting the fact that all of Imagine’s fundraising takes place abroad. “Access to funding for entrepreneurs and businesses is nonexistent in the Irish market,” he says.

Bolger was there at the beginning of Ireland’s tech boom and has had a front row seat for the opening up of the telecommunications industry here. He might yet prove a dark horse in the race to bring broadband to rural Ireland.

 Catch the full article here on the Irish Times.
Article By: Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Wireless broadband still rivalling fibre in rural areas

Study of download speeds ranks wireless firm Imagine second to fibre provider Virgin.

Government is likely to insist on use of fibre, which can deliver speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps, in its national broadband plan.  According to a sample survey of Irish broadband speeds by technology monitoring Ookla group, Virgin Media, a fibre broadband provider, was found to be delivering the fastest download speeds, equating to 276 Megabits per second (Mbps). Wireless technology firm Imagine was ranked second ahead of fibre rivals Eir, Vodafone and Sky, with an average speed of 77Mbps.

“The results show that advanced fixed wireless internet, which transmits high-speed internet signals through the air, is a powerful and more effective alternative to fibre-to-the-home broadband in rural Ireland,” Imagine’s commercial director Brian O’Donohoe said.

“ Overall, Imagine is delivering faster speeds to the countryside than providers like Eir are delivering to cities and towns, and without using wires or cables,” he said.

Wireless broadband providers risk being driven out of many parts of the market by the arrival of the Government’s national broadband plan. This is because the three shortlisted bidders for the project – Eir, Siro and E-net – are planning to submit bids based on fibre-to-the-home (FTTH)technologies, considered the gold standard internationally.

Shortcoming

However, the final 5 per cent of homes in rural Ireland, located in the hardest-to-reach areas, may still need to be connected using wireless technologies on cost grounds.

Despite the rollout of the FTTH products – Eir and Siro claim to have passed about 40,000 homes each – the take-up by consumers has been low.

Comreg’s latest broadband penetration data shows only a fraction of homes have actually opted to buy FTTH bundles, despite the clamour for better quality connectivity in rural areas.

 Catch the full article here on the Irish Times.
Article By: Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Broadband Rollout in Rural Areas ‘A PR STUNT’

The roll-out of rural broadband has been a “PR stunt” to date, according to Fianna Fáil Councillor Bob Ryan.

Speaking at a meeting of Cork County Council, Mr Ryan said that broadband providers were only doing the bare minimum and that this was being sold as progress by the Government.

“They are running fibre-optic infrastructure up rural roads so far — maybe two or three hundred metres off the main highways, and going no further.”

“It appears to me very clearly that it is a PR stunt. I’m sure there will be reports from the relevant departments dealing with broadband rollout, and they will be coming out saying they have reached so many thousands of homes in rural Ireland, but it is nothing more than a scam.”

“They are going two or three hundred metres up the road and stopping, and the people living further up the road have no chance of getting rural broadband for a long, long time. The way they are approaching it is unfair, and it is very, very much unworkable,” he said.

Independent councillor John Paul O’Shea said that he had seen similar examples in the north Cork area.

“Eir and a number of other private organisations are investing in broadband, but the fact of the matter is, Cllr Ryan is right. One area in Bweeng, they are going so far up a road, just after one house, but there are five houses further up the road that would be viable for them, but they decide to stop wherever they like.”

“It will be like this until post-2020 when the national broadband plan comes along and subsidises Eir, or whatever organisation might win the contract to do it. This county can’t wait three years for broadband services,” he said.

Fianna Fáil councillor Frank O’Flynn said that the issue was like a “sore boil” that wouldn’t go away.

Catch the full article here on the Evening Echo.

Microsoft Closes $26.2 Billion LinkedIn Acquisition

It has been a few months since Microsoft announced its intention to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.

Deals as big as this require a lot of time to through the various legal and regulatory hurdles that stand in the way. All of that is now over for this particular deal as it has now been confirmed that Microsoft’s $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn has been closed. The professional social network is officially a part of Microsoft now.

It has taken Microsoft six months to formally close its deal with LinkedIn. The European Commission put up one of the last regulatory hurdles that the company had to clear before it could officially close the deal.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has outlined some of the steps that will be taken to integrate LinkedIn with the company’s services. These include the integration of LinkedIn identity and network in Microsoft’s Office and Outlook suite, enabling LinkedIn notifications inside Windows action center, expanding Sponsored Content reach to other Microsoft properties and more.

LinkedIn members drafting resumes in Word will be able to update their profiles, search for and apply to jobs via LinkedIn. Microsoft will also develop a business news desk across its content ecosystem and MSN.com. LinkedIn Learning will become available across the Office 365 and Windows ecosystem.

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:

2016-11-22_wex_26406959_i1

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