Mar 12 2009

Eircom Broadband in Rural Ireland

Category: NetworksTeknovis @ 11:17 pm

Eircom has been in the news over the last few days due to its broadband strategy:

An Eircom executive has said that people in rural Ireland who live more than 5km from a telephone exchange will never get broadband.

Eircom’s Paul Bradley said that even when the local exchange is upgraded to handle broadband, a modem will not connect as the signal becomes so weak after 5km.

I must admit that I do not see what all the fuss is about. Eircom is simply stating the obvious! You can read more about this in Eircom accused of abandoning rural Ireland and Eircom broadband spend under review, committee told.

It is not clear to me why people in rural Ireland have an expectation that they should be able to avail of the same level of broadband as people who live in urban centres. Do these rural dwellers also expect the proposed Metro for Dublin to extend to their towns? Or do they expect that they can have gas connections to their houses? There are advantages and disadvantages of living in rural or urban areas, and that the associated differences must be recognised!

Indeed, the story gained enough momentum to be featured on national television this evening. You can watch it online on at Eircom re-thinking rural broadband rollout. Damien Mulley, for whom I have a lot of respect, appeared on the program. However, I disagree with him on the significance that broadband has on rural Ireland. As part of his argument he compared broadband access in rural locations in Ireland with broadband access in Amsterdam! I think that this is a very flawed comparison for the obvious reasons!

I also disagree with what Damien said about Eircom blocking access to certain web sites, and in particular, he mentioned The Pirate Bay. I am currently using Eircom to access the Internet, and I appear to have full access to The Pirate Bay. Furthermore, I previously described how many ISPs blocked access a certain web page in Extreme Child Pornography Prevention Measures, but Eircom did not, and still does not, block access to this web page.

In my opinion, it would be significantly more beneficial to Ireland to have investment into providing greater bandwidth and more services into a few well chosen urban locations. In other words, concentrate resources to create a silicon valley in Ireland, rather than create a mediocre service covering the entire country.

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